Seattle Medics: Riding to the rescue on Harley’s?

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symbolSEATTLE – On 9/17/07, Mayor Greg Nickels will present his plan to create a motorcycle medic team in 2008, to the Seattle City Council. Under the mayor’s budget proposal, Seattle firefighter paramedics will take to the streets on motorcycles for a two-year pilot program to study the effectiveness of such a medic team. Other cities, such as Miami and Pittsburgh, have found motorcycles are able to get through congested traffic faster than ambulances or medic units, thereby speeding response to emergencies.

Seattle is a leader in emergency medicine. We know that every minute counts when it comes to saving lives,” said Nickels. “Motorcycles present an opportunity to ensure our paramedics arrive as quickly as possible – even in heavy traffic.”

The demand for emergency medical services in Seattle has grown by 31 percent over the past 13 years. During that same period, the city’s population and traffic congestion has increased. With 63 miles of construction scheduled in the downtown area alone over the next two years, the city is looking at innovative ways to quickly reach critically ill patients.

The motorcycle medic team will consist of two firefighter paramedics on separate motorcycles outfitted with life-saving equipment. The motorcycles will carry everything that a medic unit carries, such as defibrillator’s and cardiac drugs, but in smaller quantities. Under the pilot program, motorcycle medics will be deployed in the downtown area where medical calls have increased by 46 percent over the past seven years. This additional resource in the downtown area will allow other medic units to remain in their own districts in the north and south ends of the city.

“The job of the motorcycle medics is to evaluate patients, coordinate hospital transport when needed and quickly move on to another medical response. We are always looking for ways to provide better service to our community and motorcycle medics have the potential to make a big difference in our emergency response capabilities,” said Fire Chief Gregory Dean.

Seattle plans to lease four motorcycles during the two-year pilot. Each motorcycle medic will undergo intensive safety training. The mayor has budgeted $570,000 for the program, which covers the motorcycle leases, equipment, training and staffing costs. By contrast, a standard medic unit costs $1.3 million annually to operate – approximately twice as much as the pilot program. In addition, motorcycles are more fuel efficient than standard medic unit.

Motorcycle medic teams are a growing trend for fire departments nationwide. Miami, Pittsburgh, Nantucket, Daytona Beach and Taylor, Mich., use motorcycle medics. Motorcycles are also used to deliver emergency medical services throughout Great Britain, Asia and the Middle East.

Source: Seattle.Gov