The Red Cross at the color run

This summer tens of thousands of runners will be lacing up their trainers, pulling on their sweatbands and dousing themselves in neon powder paint at a series of five-kilometre events across the country. The Red Cross looks after the medical side

The Color Run has won a place as one of the UK’s most popular short distance courses, famed for its fluorescent climax. Fun and healthy living are the heart of the run but the safety of its participants is paramount and the British Red Cross’s first aid volunteers have been called on to help.

Matt Jessop, event first aid manager at the Red Cross, said: “There’s always a fantastic atmosphere at these types of events and both the participants and our volunteers really enjoy themselves. “We will be on hand to step in should anyone have difficulties and will have a range of responders ready to treat runners or spectators.”

Color Runs will be held between June and October in across the UK in Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham, Sunderland and London. The season begins in Wembley on June 7 where the Red Cross will be providing a raft of first aid support.

“Along with the 20 first aiders, we will also have four responders on bikes which means we can cut through crowds and reach casualties quickly,” said Jessop. The Red Cross provides first aid at thousands of events nationwide every year and has a range of trained medics, equipment and vehicles available to tailor to the organiser’s needs. In the case of the Color Run, two ambulances with trained crew, one paramedic, one doctor, two event managers and a specially adapted buggy – think golf cart meets stretcher – complete with medical kit and defibrillator will be deployed.

A communications vehicle is also a key part of the Red Cross’s event first aid provision, which allows the teams to be fully coordinated and plugged into ‘blue light’ partners as well as organisers. The vehicles come complete with satellite and radio technology and are routinely used when the Red Cross is called in to respond to major incidents such as the UK flooding last winter or the recent widespread weather disruption in Scotland. The organisers of the Color Run have only one rule – start out wearing white and wind up plastered in paint. The Red Cross will also be staffing a first aid post at the Color Run’s finish line where,Jessop says, the powder people shower each other in to celebrate - completing the challenge can be the cause of some of the first aid cases. “It’s a great spectacle and everyone looks fantastic but there are some runners who end up with paint in their eyes,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of water to help them wash it away and get back to the party.”

Bruises, sprains and cuts are among the most common injuries people pick up during these types of events and having first aiders on hand to treat these is vital.

“We would expect to see mostly these types of injuries at a running event - treating a sprain immediately will hopefully help save someone a trip to A&E,” said Jessop.

The British Red Cross’s first aid volunteers are fully insured and DBSchecked and are trained to national standards in advanced first aid techniques, including resuscitation and defibrillator use.

Every event will have access to high quality equipment and consumables, including a defibrillator. The Red Cross’s modern fleet of ambulances is each fully stocked with life-saving equipment and specially trained crews. Paramedics and other health care professionals also attend certain events to add vital specialist support where needed. Jessop says: “We have an amazing team of volunteers across the UK and we can make the arrangements so that everything event organisers need is in place. And our dedicated team of support staff will be on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly.”

To find out more about how the British Red Cross can provide first aid at events, go to first aid and for more information on Color Run 2015, visit