East Texas Medical Center EMS's new bicycle response team had their first "save" of a cardiac arrest patient on their first day at the East Texas State Fair in Tyler last Friday.
"The bicycle team was patrolling the fairgrounds when they got a call about a person needing assistance," said Neal Franklin, ETMC EMS general manger. "They were able to ride their bikes through Harvey Hall to quickly get to the patient on the other side and start administering CPR until the ground unit arrived to transport the patient to the hospital. The bike team was able to respond and start CPR in less than 2 minutes from the time of the call, which is outstanding. In the past week at the fair, the bike team has responded to 24 calls including hypertension, hypo/hyperglycemia, heat exhaustion, abrasions, lacerations, falls and dizziness."
ETMC EMS bicycle response teams include 12 experienced paramedics and EMTs who meet certain physical fitness standards, possess superior cycling skills, have a positive history with ETMC EMS and have completed training to ensure safe and efficient operations.
"More and more EMS providers are adding bicycle medics for events, such as the fair, for faster response times through traffic and crowds," said Franklin. "The cyclist has the ability to move around obstacles, utilize sidewalks and navigate around people to quickly get to the injured or sick patient. The bicycle teams will be utilized at special events, such as concerts, races, parades and festivals, and also can be contracted for private events. Bike teams can begin triage and treatment as an ambulance responds to provide transport."
Each EMS bike team is comprised of a paramedic and EMT. The team carries basic life support and advanced life support equipment, as well as other supplies to respond to any emergency. Most EMS cyclists utilize a rear rack bag to store the equipment on the bicycle.
"Bicycle medics will never replace the standard ambulance, but they can greatly enhance the effectiveness of EMS operations and be a useful tool in a complex and ever-changing society," Franklin said.
Bike medic teams operate in more than 200 cities across the nation.
ETMC EMS has more than 450 paramedics and emergency medical technicians, covering over 17,000 square miles in East Texas, responding to 150,000 requests for service and transportation of more than 120,000 patients each year.