Organisers of the 29th edition of The Herald VW Cycle Tour are leaving nothing to chance when it comes to the safety of participants on February 1 and 2.

Gardmed private ambulance service will once again do duty on the streets of Port Elizabeth and on the mountain bike trails at Addo, while the trauma unit staff at Life St George’s Hospital will also be on standby to deal with any emergency situation.

According to race director Julie Briggs, organisers would also be setting up a joint operations centre at both the road and mountain bike events, which would be the first point of contact in case of a crisis.

“Although we are not anticipating any problems, good communication is essential when emergencies arise,” said Briggs.

She said the PE Amateur Radio Society would handle the radio communications and also head up the control centre.

“Their dedicated team members will be stationed at strategic points along the routes, which enables us to keep in constant communication.

“They’ve been working on the mountain bike side for two years now, so we’re confident that they’ll do an excellent job and that our riders are in good hands.”

Briggs said emergency contact details would be printed on all participants’ race numbers so that they could contact the joint operations centre should they need to.

“The emergency services personnel are thoroughly briefed beforehand and work hand in hand with Life St George’s. They’ll be in communication should a participant need to be transported to hospital.”

Life St George’s offers a 24-hour level-one emergency unit, with helicopter landing pad, which equipped it to handle any form of medical or surgical emergency.

The hospital’s new cardiac centre will also be on alert in case of any cardiac-related emergencies.

Hospital manager André Bothma said the cardiac centre was fully supported by leading specialists and highly trained personnel within the hospital.

“This puts us in an excellent position to offer top-class emergency cardiac treatment.”

The hospital’s trauma-trained nursing staff will also man the medical tents at both the Addo Polo Club and Hobie Beach race villages.

Gardmed will cover the off-road trails in 4×4 ambulances and on quad bikes, with standard emergency vehicles on the streets of Port Elizabeth.

Rolling road closures will be in effect during the Powerade family races on the Saturday, as well as the 106km Classic and 55km Pursuit on the Sunday.

Traffic officers will be on duty at particularly high-risk areas, with marshals directing motorists at all other intersections.

Gardmed operations manager and senior paramedic Craig Schwartz said motorists needed to be more aware of cyclists on the road.

“We do treat cases where cyclists have been knocked down in training, especially in the Seaview and Marine Drive areas.”

Schwartz said he could not recollect any serious incidents in his company’s 11-year relationship with the event and said that they were more likely to treat minor scrapes, grazes and fractures resulting from falls, as well as dehydration.

He advised riders to take full advantage of all the waterpoints en route.

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Gardmed and Life St George’s Hospital will once again be the official medical partners of The Herald VW Cycle Tour, which takes place in Port Elizabeth and Addo on February 1 and 2. Gardmed senior paramedic Craig Schwartz will be among those on standby to assist participants in the road and mountain bike events.

Photo: Brian Witbooi

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The Herald VW Cycle Tour