Magen David Adom launches electric bike squad

March 8, 2017 Agencies
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Magen David Adom is introducing electric bikes into its array of vehicles in Israel with each bike equipped with resuscitation equipment.

Ready for training

The bikes can be despatched  to scenes within a radius of 10 kilometres as first-responders along with standby medics, ambulances, and intensive care vehicles.

In emergency medicine, every second counts. Magen David Adom strives to always improve and cut emergency response times.

Called “Life Riders”, the new unit is composed of MDA volunteers, adults and teenage volunteers alike, who have a drivers’ licence and will be available to MDA as first responders. The teenagers must be at least 17 years old and have a minimum of a two year experience in MDA as well as their parents’ permission to be part of the unit.

Every “Life Rider” at MDA goes through professional training to ride electric bikes within cities and in a variety of conditions while handling shifting weight, halting, accelerating, changing lanes in busy roads, riding at night, etc. All in order to minimize the time it takes them to safely reach their destination.

Iftah Levi, a senior officer in MDA’s Operational Wing: “This is an all-volunteer unit, where the goal is to reach very crowded areas, or areas where ambulances and Medicycles can’t drive through, such as boardwalks, markets, old city alleys, etc. We are training the members of the unit to ride safely.”

On the road

Unit personnel must undergo professional training, focusing on Israeli traffic laws and restrictions, such as a speed limit of 25 kmh, not driving past red lights, obligation to follow signposts, etc. They are also obligated to wear a helmet, knee protectors and a neon vest.

MDA conducted its first pilot of slowly introducing the bikes into Central Israel since electric bikes will be able to manoeuvre in these areas better than motorcycles and ambulances. They focused specifically on the light rail construction zones in Tel Aviv, the Bat Yam boardwalk and the market in Petah Tikvah. The EMS organisation expects to have 1000 bikes operating throughout Israel by mid-2017.

David Ratush, MDA youth volunteer: “We joined the Life Riders project in order to shorten arrival times to places that are difficult to reach. We got protective and medical gear, such as a CPR kit, and are paged using a MIRS device that is connected 24/7 to the MDA first-responders’ dispatch centre. Today for example, we were taught how to safely ride the bikes in order to protect ourselves and those around us.”

MDA EMT Yosef Kasuto, resident of the old city of Jerusalem: “Speaking as a volunteer in the old city, we often face alleyways and narrow streets where regular ambulances can barely reach. The new bikes will definitely help us save more lives.”

Yarin Mualem, youth volunteer at MDA: “Every bike is equipped with a medical kit, so that once we reach a scene we are able to provide preliminary medical treatment until an MDA ambulance or Medicycle arrive at the scene. We are able to reach the scene quickly, treat the patient and provide an accurate report of the incident to the dispatch centre.”

Eli Bin, MDA Director General said: “We are happy to introduce the first ever pilot of “Life Riders”. MDA has a wide variety of lifesaving vehicles compatible with a variety of scenes and conditions. In order to cut emergency response times, we’ve decided to integrate electric bikes into our array of vehicles – something that’s unheard of in any other EMS organisation around the world. I am confident that this new unit, composed of our best teen volunteers, will excel in the mission of saving lives.”

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