BY ANABEL STAROSTA
When medical emergencies arise and ambulances are called, every second between the event and the treatment counts. While the final goal is to arrive at the hospital as fast as possible, treatment by emergency medical services (EMS) at the scene is often the determining factor for a patient’s survival. For cardiac arrest, for example, the survival rate decreases by 2.1% each minute that advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) is not performed. Surviving trauma accidents is also directly correlated to pre-hospital time interval and treatment (Chang, Joshua C., and Frederic P. Schoenberg, Feb. 2009). Ambulances, however, do not always arrive at the emergency fast enough, hence lowering survival rates. Traffic patterns are uncontrollable and drivers often do not make room for ambulances to pass. How, then, can emergency medicine overcome this time restraint? Perhaps Israel’s “ambucycles” offer a solution.
In addition to regular ambulances, Israel also has an extensive network of medically equipped motorcycles, known as “ambucycles.” These ambucycles are an initiative of United Hatzalah, an organization with over 2500 trained volunteer emergency first responders (Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel, 2013). The volunteers—medics, paramedics, and doctors—are on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their motorcycles are equipped with a trauma kit, an oxygen tank, a blood sugar monitor, and an automated external defibrillator (The Jerusalem Post, n.d). Using GPS technology, the Hatzalah volunteers receive the same calls as ambulances, and are dispatched to the scene. The ease with which ambucycles operate and arrive greatly improves chance of patient survival.
In the United States, while the time of dispatch is often less than five minutes, it can take much longer to arrive at the scene. It is estimated that the response time is about 10 minutes. During peak traffic hours, though, it can take 30 minutes or more (Daily News. NY Daily News, 27 Mar. 2014). Hatzalah ambucycles arrive in less than 2.5 minutes on average, weaving their way through cars and streets in order to save more lives. They carry all the equipment necessary for a standard emergency response, and aid the patient until the ambulance arrives to take the patient to the hospital.
United Hatzalah presents a simple model to drastically improve emergency medicine. All emergency assistance organizations already have dispatch systems in place; the only difference lies in the kind of vehicle being dispatched. While a volunteer workforce may pose a challenge, countries that wish to emulate this model can either recruit volunteers or adjust the model to include ambucycle employees.
Medicine is constantly evolving as proven by innovations such as and perhaps ambucycles, which mark a new feat for emergency response. Ambucycles provide an efficient and logical way to increase the rate of survival by lowering response time. Judging by their success in Israel, it is only a matter of time before other countries mold their methods to save more lives.
Chang, Joshua C., and Frederic P. Schoenberg. “A Statistical Analysis of Santa Barbara Ambulance Response in 2006: Performance Under Load.” Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Feb. 2009. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.
“United Hatzalah.” United Hatzalah. Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel, 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.
“Goverment Dithers in Red Tape; Defibrillator Saves Life.” The Jerusalem Post. The Jerusalem Post, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.
“Longer 911 Response times Bring Dismay to Pols at City Council.” Daily News. NY Daily News, 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.