Tour de Care - Yannick helps to keep the wheels in motion

NEAS's Frenchman in Yorkshire brings some va-va-voom to world's most famous cycle race

When the 101st Tour de France recently raced through Yorkshire to euphoric scenes of adulation from thousands of sports fans,  how many of those people stopped to think about the essential 'behind the scenes' planning that went into staging part of the world's elite cycling showcase?

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) worked in collaboration with the event organisers to plan medical support for the event. 

As the overarching medical framework was developed they asked North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) for support in implementing the plan and seconded a specialist medical care representative from NEAS to work at YAS. 

He was embedded within the Tour de France planning team, working through months of intricate preparation that went into ensuring the safety of spectators and riders throughout the event.

With large-scale international sporting events such as the Tour de France, neighbouring ambulance trusts can be called upon to support their colleagues to manage the sheer extent of the operation.

The skills of Yannick Raimbault, of the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and Resilience Manager for NEAS, were put into practice with his previous experience of working on Le Tour in his native Nantes making him an ideal candidate for the specialist secondment. Yannick is based at HART's main office in Russell House, Monkton in South Tyneside.

Yannick worked extensively with all twelve local authorities who were integral in securing and staging the race up and down the country.  'Welcome to Yorkshire' was the lead organisation that spearheaded Yorkshire's campaign to host the Grand Départ section of the sporting centrepiece.   

Yannick supported YAS and contributed to writing and delivering the tactical and operational medical plan, coordinating the dedicated private medical providers through Venture Medical Services that would be used during Le Tour.

Alongside YAS colleagues, Yannick also worked closely with Tour de France Hub 2014 Ltd to map out the potential route decisions and judge where to best assign the nurses and doctors.

Yannick helped to put the medical framework in place and studied the research data that was produced to estimate the level of crowd attendance. This was an important element as his professional judgement and that of the YAS Medical Directorate was used to determine the overall medical provision needed to treat the expected gatherings.

Here are some impressive facts taken from the Yorkshire stages of the Tour de France:

 584 people in the crowd or located within the race route were treated by YAS and hub medical teams over the course of the weekend.  Out of all those patients, only 43 were subsequently transferred to hospital for further treatment.

 The medical provision at each of the identified spectator hubs certainly helped to ease the impact of such a high profile event on the ambulance service and the wider NHS.

Yannick knew from his past operational knowledge of Le Tour that spectators tended to congregate en masse in the rural areas due to the wonderful vantage points and idyllic settings. His predictions were accurate as at one point nearly 60,000 people watched the race along the winding roads of the Yorkshire Moors.   

French-born Yannick, aged 42, of Ellington in Northumberland has been with NEAS for thirteen years. He comes from a strong cycling family with his father having twice taken part in Le Tour back in the 1960s, and at the age of 73 still cycles 300 miles a week. 

Yannick said: "All of the thorough planning by everyone involved and team work really paid off, as the figures have shown that our intervention significantly reduced the impact on the NHS during the Tour de France."      

Yannick continues: "The successful roll-out of the whole operation was tantamount to people trusting our judgement. The distribution of appropriate medical care to particular areas of the route was justified in the number of patients we effectively treated during Le Tour.

"All of the challenges and levels of expectation were achieved through the specialist clinical and paramedic skills that were available to us.  YAS, NEAS, North West Ambulance Service and East Midlands Ambulance Service and their partners should be proud of the high level of patient care that was accomplished during this world class event."

The famous cycling road race started on July 5th in Leeds and speeds through into France until July 27th with the riders completing 21 stages - covering a total distance of 3,664 kilometres. 

NEAS provided a selection of resources and nearly 30 staff for the two-day event in Yorkshire that included four mountain bike paramedics, three ambulances and their crews and various other emergency vehicles.

No frontline vehicles or paramedics were taken from the North East resources as all of the staff involved were off-duty and volunteering their time to take part in the momentous occasion.  

Yannick concludes: "The feedback we've received from NEAS staff who took part in the Tour de France has been excellent. They thought it was a privilege to work at such a prestigious event, and to help keep the massive crowds safe to enjoy the sporting spectacle."

Ian Walton, Associate Director of Resilience and Special Services at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said that Yannick has been a great asset to YAS and the TDF Hub planning team: "His focus in supporting the delivery of the medical provision for the race itself has been excellent. Our TDF planning team will miss him on his return to NEAS but I hope this leads to greater partnership working with them in the future and I would like to express my personal thanks to Yannick and all his NEAS colleagues who came to Yorkshire and helped to make the event such a great a success."

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