Cycling in Britain is at an all-time high. More than two million people across the country now cycle at least once a week.*
Perhaps we’ve all been inspired by Chris Froome adding a third yellow Tour de France jersey to his collection, or the Great Britain Cycling Team sweeping up 12 Olympic medals at Rio 2016?
Whatever the reason, it’s great that more and more people are sharing a love of cycling.
But new research conducted by the British Red Cross found that while 90 per cent of cyclists think sports people have a responsibility to look after each other, 40 per cent would not have the confidence to help a fellow cyclist in a first aid emergency.
Bumps, scrapes and falls come hand-in-hand with sporting activities – no matter what level you’re at. And we want to make sure people know what to do in a crisis. From average Joe to pro.
TEACHING THE PROS
This week those selected for the Senior Academy programme with British Cycling have been brushing up on their first aid skills with the Red Cross.
This group of 18-21 year olds are working hard to become the next round of top British riders with their sights firmly set on Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
Their first aid learning was part of the programme’s bootcamp where they have learnt a range of useful stuff from nutrition to cleaning kit.
But Performance Pathway manager Ian Yates was keen for first aid to be part of this programme too:
“These guys, whether they’re track cyclists, road cyclists, mountain bikers or BMXers, are likely to be involved in or see a teammate go through something, and they won’t always be in an environment where there will be a first aider present – on a training ride for example,” Ian explained.
“I think it’s critical that people know how to respond. I think there’s a certain expectation that something will happen, from a hamstring tear to an impact injury.
“Being prepared for it, and having a little bit more confidence, and a bit more knowledge to deal with it, will prepare them to step forward if someone needs help.
“First aid is a critical skill that goes beyond sport.”
But it’s not just the pros that need to be in the know – as Josh’s story demonstrates.
Josh’s bike is his means of transportation for getting to and from the music shop where he works as a guitar specialist.
In his spare time, it’s his passion. He can often be found riding the rolling hills of the South Downs.
But one Saturday morning while cycling to work, Josh started to feel unwell and dizzy. He stopped on the side of the road.
Passers-by Heather and Trevor found Josh on the ground next to his bike. Initially he responded to the couple’s questions and said a few words. But then his eyes glazed over, had what looked like a short convulsion and turned blue in the face.
Heather and Trevor checked for signs of breathing and realised he wasn’t. They immediately called 999.
As Heather had learnt first aid, she put her skills into action by doing chest compressions – pushing downwards in the centre of his chest and then releasing.
A nurse called Gill happened to walk by wearing her uniform and Trevor and Heather asked her to help them until the ambulance arrived.
On arrival, paramedics used a defibrillator on Josh and on the first shock normal rhythm of his heart was restored. He was taken to hospital in Brighton.
In hospital Josh was diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm. He was fitted with a small device that gives his heart a shock should the rhythm become irregular.
Thankfully Josh made a full recovery – and still rides his bike to work and on the South Downs. He’s also taken a first aid course since so he can help others should the need arise – like those who helped him.
But the experience still sticks with his dad Tony.
“In Josh’s case, first aid literally saved a life as those first few minutes were so vitally important,” Tony said.
“He could have so easily have been in a situation where no one knew what to do.”
Up Your Game
Up Your Game is a Red Cross campaign to encourage all you sporty people alike to learn first aid.
The Senior Academy team were pleased they learnt these key skills:
“For people cycling at every level, even just riding to work, I think in general, not just sportspeople, it’s a really good thing to have this knowledge behind you,” said rider Jack Carlin.
“If something does happen you know that you’ll be able to help them,” he added.
The good news is first aid is easy to learn and simple to do.
*Figure according to British Cycling (the sport’s governing body in the UK).