St John Ambulance introduces response bicycles to Norfolk

St John Ambulance has expanded its Cycle Response Unit by installing two bikes in Norfolk for the fi

St John Ambulance has expanded its Cycle Response Unit by installing two bikes in Norfolk for the first time, based in Dereham. Pictured are SJA operational cyclists Dominic Wade and Anna King. Pic by Chris Hill - Credit: Archant

A first aid charity has introduced response bicycles to Norfolk for the first time to help reach people in need of medical help at crowded events and city centres.

St John Ambulance is expanding its cycle response unit in the East of England, and has provided two fully-equipped bikes for Norfolk which will be based centrally at its unit headquarters on Yaxham Road in Dereham.

From there, they can be despatched to events around the county, and a team of nine volunteers have had the specialist training to use them to deliver advanced first aid.

The charity says the bikes will offer faster response times to emergencies in busy city centres like Norwich or King's Lynn, and that the riders can also quickly take equipment into buildings such as shopping centres and railway stations.

They will also be used at large and crowded outdoor events where motor vehicles are impractical, as they as they can cover large distances more quickly than first-aiders on foot.

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The St John bicycles saw their first action this weekend at Norwich's Race for Life, and they are likely to be deployed at other large crowd-pullers including Sandringham Flower Show and the Royal Norfolk Show.

Wayne Badcock, operational cycling officer for St John Ambulance, said: 'The introduction of these bikes in Norfolk is fantastic news as we can now boast coverage across the whole East of England region.

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'Our riders are trained to high standards, not just in first aid delivery but also in advanced cycling skills, meaning that they are able to negotiate crowded areas quickly, without endangering pedestrians, to reach the scene of a first aid emergency.

'We're looking forward to training up further riders and to deploying the bikes at forthcoming public events in the county.'

The bicycles carry equipment including comprehensive first aid kits, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), oxygen and Entonox, a pain-relieving gas. It means a wide range of conditions can be treated, from a simple small wound to multiple life-threatening injuries or severe medical conditions such as asthma or cardiac arrest.

By arriving much earlier than an ambulance would be able to in these circumstances, the trained cyclists can administer potentially life-saving first aid while waiting for other emergency services.

The bikes were purchased and equipped using money raised at the Norfolk Open Gardens Scheme in 2013.

Georgina Holloway, president of the St John Ambulance in Norfolk, said: 'I am really grateful to the St John Ambulance volunteers who gave up their time on Sundays, not only to take the attendance money and provide first aid cover, but also to make the cakes and tea. We are also very grateful to the people who own the gardens who were kind enough to let us use their gardens for the fundraising, which has allowed this equipment to be purchased.'

To find out more about volunteering with the cycle response unit, email or visit

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