accessibility & help

Red Cross teams keep WOMAD festival-goers safe for 21st year running

For immediate release: 2 August, 2011
For further information: Rebecca McIlhone
Contact number: 0117 3012624 / 07525 128297

British Red Cross staff and volunteers treated almost 400 people at WOMAD 2011 this year - the 21st year the organisation has provided first aid cover at the festival.

Around 85 of the charity’s first aid volunteers provided round-the-clock first aid cover for the event, at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, from Wednesday 27 July until yesterday (Monday 1 August), making sure festival-goers received the medical help they needed in the event of illness or injury.

Volunteers treated 397 casualties, one less than the previous year, with everything ranging from eye irritations to suspected broken bones.

Sarah Crockett, 34, from Stonehouse, in Gloucestershire, had a fall while she was working a night shift at the festival and was treated by Red Cross volunteers before being transported to hospital for x-rays on a suspected fractured foot. She said: “I walked home afterward I fell but it was only after I’d slept that I realised quite how painful it was.

“I came to the Red Cross medical centre and had lovely treatment. I was given the accolade of being one of the volunteers’ first fractures. They’ve looked after me very well. It’s been very slick.”

Sarah was one of several casualties who were transported to hospital including one person who was evacuated by helicopter.

Emma Nash, 36, from Wroughton, near Swindon, was inspired to train as an event first aid volunteer after helping injured people at two separate road traffic incidents. The mother of three, whose day job is as a double glazing installations manager, says: “I’d done first aid at work training before and, having kids, it’s always nice to know what to do if someone needs first aid. I’m not the sort of person who drives by if someone’s in trouble. If someone needs help, I’ll give them help.”

Red Cross first aid volunteers are highly skilled and trained in advanced first aid and life-saving techniques, such as trauma management and defibrillator use. The charity’s volunteers staffed a field hospital with minor and major injuries sections, as well as a doctors’ tent and welfare tent for Red Cross staff and volunteers.

Meanwhile Red Cross event first aid volunteers were on foot patrol throughout the weekend. The Red Cross works alongside Great Western Ambulance Service and local GPs and nurses.

The Red Cross has a history of providing first aid cover at major events in the region. The organisation recently covered the Badminton Horse Trials and St Paul’s Carnival, in Bristol. The next big event on the agenda is the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which regularly attracts crowds of 100,000. Last year the Red Cross provided ten staff, 100 volunteers and seven vehicles over the four days to respond to first aid emergencies.

If you would like to book the Red Cross to provide first aid at your event, visit the website: and click on the Event First Aid link.

First Aid Tips for Summer Festivals:

Strains and sprains

Strains and sprains should be treated initially by the ‘RICE’ procedure:

- R rest the injured part
- I apply ice or a cold compress
- C comfortably support the injury
- E elevate the injured part

Heat stroke

This potentially dangerous condition occurs when the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, due to illness or prolonged exposure to heat and humidity. The use of drugs such as ecstasy can raise the body temperature and may lead to heatstroke. 

Signs and symptoms include:
Restlessness, headache, dizzy feeling, flushed and very hot skin, rapid loss of consciousness, fast, strong pulse and raised body temperature.

1. Get the casualty to a cool place and lie them down and make them comfortable
2. Cool them with a cold wet sheet if available.  If not, use water or a fan
3. Call an ambulance
4. When their temperature returns to normal replace the wet sheet with a dry one.
5. Monitor their symptoms until help arrives

Heat exhaustion

This condition is caused by an abnormal loss of salt and water from the body through excessive sweating. It usually develops gradually.   
Signs and symptoms include:
Cramp-like pains and/or headache, pale, moist skin, fast, weak pulse, slightly raised temperature
1. Help the casualty to lie down in a cool place
2. Raise their legs to improve blood flow.
3. Cool them with water or a fan
4. Give the casualty plenty of water to drink or a non-fizzy drink to replace lost fluids.
5. Call an ambulance.

Alcohol and drug poisoning

Signs and Symptoms include:
Smell of alcohol, loss of co-ordination; confusion, flushed face, deep, noisy breathing.  If stimulant drugs have been taken they may have a raised body temperature and other symptoms of heatstroke

1. Help the casualty to sit or lie down in a warm, comfortable place if possible.
2. Cover him with a blanket or coat to help keep him warm.
3. Monitor symptoms and get medical help if necessary


Notes to editors

Photographs are available on request.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

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