The Great North Run 2011 took place last Sunday. As well as being the occasion where a large number of unsuspecting men lose all the skin from their nipples, it is one of the world’s largest half marathons with over 38,000 runners and therefore a somewhat challenging duty to cover from an Ambulance point of view. It’s one of the few events where British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and the NHS Ambulance Services cooperate in a big way. A big part of the cover provided (and for a significant chunk of the race, the fastest responding assets available) is the ambulance cycles.
Effectively, if you call 999 anywhere near the finish line, it’s one of the above that will be sprinting to your aid.
I won’t sing the praises of cycles in this particular post, but instead I’ll give you an idea of what we got up to over the course of the day. Myself and a colleague from Northumbrian SJA provided the final pair of bikes, covering the patch after the finish line up to the metro station and ferry, where runners are cooling down, standing in long queues for public transport, and generally getting fairly wobbly.
The GPS trace is at the bottom, but most of the day was spent slowly cruising through dense crowds and dodging the queues of buses parked up. The only real emergency run you can spot was after the 30km mark, with about a km run at around 26km/h. Considering the weight of the kit (gas cylinder, defibrillator, full treatment kit), the knobbly tyres and the people and traffic (being able to stop cars and legally go the other side of road islands helps…) this isn’t too shabby in my mind.
Anyway, happily the ‘collapsed 50 year old male’ had recovered and wandered off by the time we arrived, and the nearby Diabetes UK charity tent graciously donated free cake to speed our recovery…