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Eli Beer formed an all volunteer First Aid/EMS group when he was 17.  In the process of developing the program he volunteered on an ambulance and was always upset when they would get stuck in traffic.

Eli attributed his dying patients’ demise on the extended response time and wanted to do more for them in the time between when they needed help and when help arrived.

This video goes directly to the core of the Response Time argument and it is important to make a clear distinction between first response and ambulance response times.

We can all agree that getting someone in the door quickly can help guide the rest of the system’s response.  This can be a fire department engine, an EMT Police Officer or perhaps a third service handling first response.  What we don’t need is to send a reclined cot van on every call, nor does it need to get there in 4 minutes most of the time to make a difference.

In this TEDMED talk, Eli talks about how he came to found United Hatzalah and send motorcycles he calls “Ambucycles” to the scene of an emergency to help until an ambulance can arrive.  He touts a 3 minute response time to over 207,000 incidents last year and is using mobile technology to achieve it.

The phone app broadcasts the medical incident to the 5 closest volunteers in the same way CPR needed apps do so in the states.  When he mentioned it was kind of like an EMS flash mob he had my attention.  We’re locked into some old ideas and this one breaks the mold.


Why aren’t we as communities encouraging this kind of organization?  Sure there are volunteer First Aid Squads all over, but this is far far simpler than that.  And don’t wave the liability flag here, those folks would have to be trained to get access to the app and with the right kind of basic QA program built in you’re golden.

What do you think of the various things mentioned in this video?

  • Motorcycle first response
  • Volunteers
  • Phone App dispatching


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  1. Motorcop July 30, 2013 3:33 pm

    First off, I can’t believe you didn’t tag me in this post.

    Secondly, one thing that gives me pause is the thought of phone app dispatching. There are always more questions we in the field will ask that call takers may not, so we are constatnly getting updated info whilst en route to save the day.

    One can’t be reading one’s smart phone while riding a motorcycle. Trust me.

    Beyond that, the core of it is a great idea!

  2. Ethan Zook July 30, 2013 7:10 pm

    That’s awesome. I’d trade the ambulance for a motorcycle pretty much any day of the week. How about you, happy?

  3. 9-ECHO-1 August 1, 2013 5:07 am

    I like the basic concept of the idea which is thinking outside of the box to solve a problem. I can see some liability issues or concerns. Those can be worked out and the basic concept would be sound. Imagine if this “Cardiac Arrest Flash Mob” were to include law enforcement units, public works vehicles, and other administrative and operational support vehicles of the local jurisdiction? My agency is one of county government, so the resources are all there…

    • Yonatan August 11, 2013 3:57 am

      Considering the Good Samaritan Laws that many states have, what liabilities might there be?

  4. Paul August 6, 2013 7:33 am

    My first thought was how the heck are they going to transport people on that thing!? Then I saw that they’re utilizing the Ambucycles for first response which makes a ton more sense. I think it’s a great idea, and 3 minutes response time is pretty damn quick. Imagine having 4-5 of these bikes out cruising around a governed region, you could really drop that response time. Now if only the ambulances could float!

  5. Yonatan August 11, 2013 3:55 am

    Just now seeing this.

    MC, I’ve never had the opportunity to see LifeCompass in action so I may be wrong, but I doubt it is or ever was intended to communicate details or updates about the scene, just an initial text message followed by GPS guidance to the scene. Think of it more as a scanner with a coded squelch system based on location and skillset rather than tones.

    Happy, You are correct; we ARE locked into antiquated ideas. London Eng and Melbourne Aus have single responder units that operate by bicycle, moped, or car, although these are on-the-clock posts. I’m sure other metro areas have programs similar to the London model, but in all my days living in American metros, I’ve never ONCE seen anything like them let alone like United Hatzalah.

    Could it work here? Absolutely! It’s not like Israel lies in a different dimension of space-time.

    Regardless of the mode of transport, Hatzalah exists because of VOLUNTEERS, not tax dollars. The volunteers would have to have current EMT license at minimum, but they could work outside of EMS, or just be an off-clock EMT that happens to be in the area (like an off duty cop at church that thwarted a would-be shooter).

    Cost? Consider… Watching an old epi of COPS, the unit dispatched to a hit-run found a victim with a minor cut on the cheek. Did he pull the 1st Aid kit from the patrol car? No, he called for BLS. That cost how much? Now, if a licensed volunteer stepped up and checked the victim for concussion, inspected the cut, and applied an anti-biotic and a plaster, how much might that have cost? (Detroit filed bankruptcy earlier this year, fwiw).

    The question is, would the Hatzalah model be ALLOWED to work here in the States? I mean, this is America. Trying to round up volunteers is like herding cats. Then getting them coordinated with bureaucrats is like trying to get an ox and a donkey in the same yoke. Our status quo is to give our problems to officials, expect them to work in a vacuum, then get mad at them when they don’t give us what we wanted for free. We vote in some other jack@$$ and hope for change, and all we get is chumped. So we complain, and we posture, and we threaten, then something else gets our attention and we turn away from the cause that 2 seconds ago we felt so passionately about as to discard longstanding friendships. Not long ago we were debating the Second Amendm… SQUIR!… Ooh, shiny!

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