Thursday, August 8, 2013

News: Melbourne's Motorcycle Paramedics

Photo courtesy of gizmag.com
As a motorcyclist, I have always wondered if there are ways in which the motorcycle might make a greater contribution to society in ways that have not been thought of yet. Recently, I read about a TED Talk given by a man in Israel had started a company to provide ambulance service using motor scooters. The benefit provided was the ability to carry everything that an ambulance has, except for the gurney, albeit in more limited quantities, and to ease through traffic much more easily than a full-sized ambulance. The concept itself is not a new one as several countries have been testing these motorcycle ambulances or have been using motorbikes as medical transplant organ transports for years now.

One such city is Melbourne, Australia. They have launched a new trial using several fully kitted out BMW GS motorbikes that carry full scale medical kits in panniers and cases on the bike. In addition to the kits, the bikes have been outfitted with the flashing lights, sirens, and radios needed to do the job. The rider of tone of these bikes was kind enough to allow a photographer to follow him during the course of a day and record various moments. What resulted is the photo-diary linked below.

The rider points out several key advantages as well as disadvantages of using motorbikes in this capacity. Key among the advantages is the ability to utilize the bikes smaller size to squeeze between cars and filtering through traffic. Additionally, the bikes are narrow enough that they are able to use some trails and sidewalks that no full-size ambulance could ever take advantage of, saving time and allowing the paramedic to arrive quicker to the scene of an incident. However, there are definitely a few drawbacks. The nature of the motorbike makes it far more vulnerable than the traditional truck based ambulance and that they are more prone to being ignored due their smaller size. Of course, the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages and the program seems to be something that is likely to live on in Melbourne and in many other places around the world.

But would something like this work in the US? Is this an idea that could be implemented in some of the large American cities where traffic often does cause delays for first responders? Are American drivers disciplined enough to allow a motorcycle riding paramedic to pass or is this potentially a recipe for disaster? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Links to the photos and and TED talk after the break.

Click here to see the photojournal of the Melbourne Motorcycle Paramedic.

Here is the TED talk mentioned above.