Emergency services reveal plans for Tour weekend
Updated 7:01pm Monday 30th June 2014 in News
PLANS for the biggest event York has seen in more than 30 years will see emergency services draw on all available resources this week.
Thousands of people are expected to visit York this weekend for the Grand Depart, and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service have explained to The Press some of the plans they have in place for the weekend.
Ian Walton, associate director of resilience and special services with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said the service was working to support the tour, but still ensuring resources are in place to deal with day to day business.
He said: "More than 1,000 medical experts will be on site over the two days.
"From our perspective we have tried to do things slightly differently to what we would normally do and increase paramedics on life cycles to 18 because, they can get through the crowds easier and increased the number of motorcycle paramedics too, potentially to 10, who will also be able to get through traffic easier than a double-crewed ambulance. Three air ambulances will also be available to us."
Mr Walton said the non-emergency health line, 111, had increased its resources "over and above what they might have on a Bank Holiday weekend", with healthcare staff including dental and pharmacy nurses even helping out from neighbouring health areas. He said 104 community first responders had also volunteered for additional first aid training to support the Tour.
A spokeswoman for the Fire Service said plans were in place to "deal with any incidents that may occur" during the Grand Depart.
She said: "We will be placing some rapid response vehicles at certain locations along the route to ensure that we are able to respond to emergencies quickly and effectively despite the large numbers of visitors.
"We are also requesting that some of our retained staff, who wouldn’t normally be on station as normally they would respond to incidents from their homes or places of employment, come into the station so that we can guarantee their availability and provide an immediate response."
David Whiting, chief executive at YAS said Friday's announcement by Unite that 177 of its members in the service had voted for strike action over the weekend was disappointing, but the chiefs were "committed to minimising the level of disruption to its services", and YAS had "robust contingency plans in place".
Further talks are expected today (MON), but The Press understands Ambulance services in the North East, North West and West Midlands are also supporting Yorkshire during the Grand Depart, essentially expanding their borders to allow YAS to focus on the event, and Mr Walton said even larger ambulances should still be able to move with relative freedom.
He said: "Emergency services have agreed a number of crossing points on the route and all staff have been updated on that so crossing the route should not be a problem for us.
"We have also met with the TdF medical team themselves who support riders in the race, and they will be bringing seven ambulances equipped to ICU standard and medical staff and surgeons. We have provided two ambulances to support them and movement of the riders. That's being paid for by them not coming from YAS budget at all, and we have a French-speaking medic put in the Tour doctor's car."
City of York Council estimate 180,000 people may visit the city during the event - believed to be the biggest event the city has seen since Pope John Paul II visited in 1982 - and some though concerns had been raised about expectant mothers being able to travel to hospital, Mr Walton said that was "business as usual for us", and should not be an issue.
Mr Walton said: "We are expecting possibly in excess of two million people over the two days but that doesn't necessarily mean we will get thousands of casualties. Key messages are dress for the weather, make sure you have enough medication, and when you arrive at a hub, get an idea where the medical services are."
Tour de France medics will also provide care to the public during the race, and also at the start and finish, where they will remain until the crowds have dispersed.
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