With the Bee Gees blaring through the speakers on a sunlit Saturday early in August, the Netherlands Red Cross promoted first aid at the Amsterdam Canal Parade. This world famous annual boat parade celebrates the diversity of Holland’s LGBT community. By performing a Stayin’ Alive dance, choreographed exclusively for the event, Red Cross staff and volunteers demonstrated the importance of life-saving skills for an audience of nearly half a million people.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Netherlands Red Cross. During several major events throughout this special year, the Red Cross focuses attention on the importance of first aid.

Annually some 16,000 people in the Netherlands are hit by cardiac arrest; more than 300 each week. It is important that as many people as possible know what to do when they find themselves in such an emergency situation. So the Red Cross aims to increase the number of people with life saving skills, and the dance is intended to focus attention on the need – in a fun way.

Feel the city shakin’

Together with four professional dancers, 80 Red Cross staff and volunteers performed a dance to the music of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”, choreographed exclusively for the event. It showed key elements of looking, listening, feeling, calling and actual heart massage to an audience of almost half a million people, gathered along the Amsterdam Canals. Many of them copied the dance moves as the boat passed along.

Special signs and slogans about first aid provided interaction with the gathered crowd. An inflatable heart (to be pumped up again after each bridge), a DJ and a mass of confetti also helped to capture the spectators’ attention for the boat and the First Aid message.
The Canal Parade provided the Red Cross also a platform to showcase itself as an open and diverse organisation.

In line with the aim of the Parade, the Red Cross underlined that sexual orientation, like religious beliefs, race or political preferences, plays no role when it comes to saving lives – something that applies to recipients as well as providers of aid. By means of participating the Red Cross presented itself as a tolerant and diverse organization on which anyone can rely, and where everybody is welcome.
As a next event during its anniversary year the Red Cross will attempt to set a new world record for first aid, having over 2,000 people to simultaneously perform life-saving actions at De Dam, Amsterdam’s main square, on Saturday 9 September.