SCORES of St John Ambulance volunteers are preparing for duty over the coming week as bonfires and fireworks displays take place across North Yorkshire.

The charity, which is currently running an Evening Press-backed fundraising appeal to buy a £42,000 Crusader ambulance for use in the York area, is preparing to cover about 20 events across the county.

These include the display in New Earswick, tomorrow and events in both Stillington, near Easingwold, and in Selby on Saturday.

Sue Sherman, deputy commissioner operations of the North Yorkshire and Teesside St John Ambulance, said at most events people enjoyed themselves and nobody got hurt.

But, she said, volunteers needed to be on hand just in case something went wrong.

She said: "Around the county we have got about 20 bonfires that we are covering with about 80 members out on duty over those few days.

"It only needs a bonfire to get out of control or a little bit of foolish action from someone with a firework for accidents to happen.

"I've had to deal with cases at an organised display because somebody had fireworks when they shouldn't. We need to be there just in case."

Viv Shakespeare, the St John's superintendent of York, said it was important to have adequate medical cover.

She said: "It is a very busy night and it's important that St John Ambulance are on hand to protect the public.

"I think organisers are more aware of safety issues these days and we are actually rarely required for serious injuries these days which is good news.

"But, of course, the risk is always there and we need to be on hand in case a member of the public is injured."

To support the ongoing ambulance appeal, send cheques made payable to St John Ambulance Appeal, c/o David Sutton at St John Ambulance, St John House, 236 Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 2EZ, or go into any high street bank and pay into account number 60382078, sort code 20-82-94.

Or call in at the Evening Press, 76/86 Walmgate, York, YO1 9YN.

Updated: 09:59 Thursday, October 31, 2002