50 Wheels for an Ambulance – The EFRU Sicily Cycling Tour 2014

June 30, 2014 in General

The Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit is a completely voluntary organisation and relies heavily on the generosity of others to be able to assist the Maltese community (not to mention neighbouring countries when affected by significant disasters). This year, the EFRU felt the need to purchase an ambulance and in order to do this, a cycling tour in Sicily was organised in mid-June.

The response was humbling – 23 cyclists enthusiastically responded to the call and several EFRU volunteers dedicated much time to prepare for this event. The route was scouted in May, to make sure that it was safe and that it was achievable by a wide spectrum of cyclists. Meanwhile, the cycling participants started organising weekly training – after all, 315km over two days requires adequate preparation for most cyclists. As with any plan, things do not always go as intended, and unfortunately 4 cyclists had to cancel their participation due personal reasons, bringing down the final number to 19 cyclists. However, they still wished to help the EFRU and donated their share despite not being able to attend.

Friday the 13th of June was the first day of the tour – 50 wheels (19 bicycles and 3 backup vehicles) boarded the ferry to Pozzallo at dawn. We are not superstitious, but we couldn’t help but notice how a massive solar flare played tricks on the GPS receivers and disrupted radio and mobile communications on this particular day! Added to this, one of the cyclists had technical difficulties less than third of the way into the tour and was unable to cycle the rest of the tour. Aside from these hiccups however, everything else proceeded relatively well. In true EFRU spirit, the cyclist that was forced out of the tour changed role to join the 6-strong EFRU backup team who were seeing to the wellbeing of the cyclists. Thankfully, there were no injuries throughout the 2-day tour, and only some cramps and minor heat exhaustion instances that required basic treatment.

Once back in Pozzallo, ready to board the ferry back to Malta, everyone was in high spirits and positive about the tour. So much so, that some cyclists were hinting at a second tour later on this year. The EFRU feels indebted towards the cyclists who donated money to help reach the goal of purchasing the ambulance, as well as to those volunteers who have assisted in the preparations for the tour, and who took leave from work to serve as backup during the tour. Furthermore, the EFRU wishes to thank Mr. Sergio Sciberras for kindly providing the cyclists with Go&Fun Energy Drinks, as well as to Mr. Mark Gaglione from Medcomms for providing a GPS receiver for the tour.

Joe Bonnici

EFRU Volunteer