Eleven student volunteers from Brunel First Aid Society spent the weekend by the coast in Brighton, providing first aid and medical cover for the 12,000 runners competing in the UK's second-largest marathon!
Brighton Marathon is always one of the highlights of the year in the St John Ambulance calendar - a chance for a weekend away at the seaside, helping out at one of the biggest sporting events in the UK, never fails to attract some keen volunteers!
This year was the tenth anniversary of the Brighton Marathon, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Our journey started at Brunel with two minibuses and a car - one was driven into Central London by the society's newly-elected Unit Manager, Mo. He picked up a group of volunteers from other London universities from Marylebone Station, before heading down to the coast. Simultaneously, the other vehicles were filled with Brunel volunteers, First Aid Kits, medical gases and more equipment, and headed straight for Brighton.
Saturday afternoon was a chance for us to chill by the beach. Unfortunately the weather wasn't as nice as we'd hoped, so after some fish and chips on arrival, we spent some time on the pier and in the arcades. The city was very busy, both with runners and their groups of family, friends and supporters, and a wide range of organisations including St John Ambulance who had gathered to help ensure the event was a success.
The night for our eleven volunteers was spent on the floor at the SJA headquarters in Worthing, just a short drive along the coast from the city centre. Having big groups of us stay in St John Ambulance buildings helps keep the costs down for the charity, and as students we don't really mind!
The day of the Marathon started with an alarm set for 4:30am. After a quick shower we were out the door and in the minibuses for 5:15am, heading for the event footprint before the road closures came into effect. Brunel volunteers were providing staff to Treatment Centres 15 and 16, after the Finish Line in the Repatriation Area and Charity Village respectively. Each Treatment Centre has a Treatment Centre Manager, who is in charge of organising and managing the volunteers and any issues that arise on the day. They are assisted by a Staff Officer, who was Toby (our outgoing Unit Manager) for TC15 and Mary (our new Events Lead) for TC16.
We also can't forget Mo, who is a member of SJA's Medical Response Team. They specialise in retrieving patients from busy, noisy or tightly packed environments such as the dense crowds at music festivals. At marathons, they are positioned at the Finish Line, ready to assist any runner who makes it over the line and collapses. They are quickly able to move them to the side, assess them and transport them straight to the Advanced Treatment Centre located just next to the finish area, where they can get the help they need.
Despite the sun, the day was very cold and the main condition that we needed to help runners with was hypothermia. We set up a "sauna" area in our treatment tent to send runners that needed warming up, something they were very grateful for. Apart from that, there was nothing too serious and we were happy to help with minor cuts, grazes and dehydration that we were fully expecting to encounter.
After we were stood down at around 6pm, we set off straight back to Brunel for a well-earned rest. In total, our volunteers contributed 187 hours to St John Ambulance in the 24 hours of the Brighton Marathon day. We're preparing for another long day for the London Marathon very soon - we're taking around twenty volunteers and staffing an entire Treatment Centre!
Check out our takeover of the @BrunelUni Instagram Account! #BrunelFirstAid