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EMS Bike Program from the ground up

My ramblings in this forum have been quiet lately, mainly because my therapy is finding new forms.  Whether those forms be advanced ARFF training in Dallas, assisting in large MCI drills, writing SOGs, the list goes on and on.  My position here allows me the opportunity to try out some new ideas and gosh darn it if they aren’t working more often than not!

Many of you following along on the Facebook machines may have noticed that my service is gearing up to host a large sporting event and since they still request I do not mention them in this forum, I can’t be too much more specific.

Now that that is out of the way…

Like many jurisdictions we can get quickly overwhelmed when large events occur.  Be it a concert, sporting event or even public disturbance, the need to respond, assess, treat and possible transport exists, but the methods to do so are limited.

Large public gatherings can allow for a satellite system to be set up with more mobile units on foot or on bikes or in a small golf cart or Gator.  These resources are invaluable in reaching patients quickly and evacuating them to care when needed.

When facing a similar situation we looked for a solution already in place in many similar communities: Bicycles.

Law Enforcement here uses bikes with great success and we reached out to them for training.  A one day class put us through our paces and we were sore for days.

Policy was needed to not only determine when and where to deploy the bike, but what role it needed to play.  Many jurisdictions staff Medics or EMTs with an AED on the bikes.  This makes sense for the extreme calls, but in order to cancel our other units and complete an assessment the local EMS Authorities require ECG tracing when indicated as part of a secondary assessment.  If the bike unit can’t complete an assessment and obtain a refusal when appropriate, all we’re doing is stopping the clock.  I don’t need the clock stopped, I need more resources.  I need a trained set of eyes on the “Man down unconscious” to determine it is only a minor slip and fall requiring and requesting no additional services.  Cancel the ALS first response and the ALS Transport unit, complete an assessment and cut a chart.

But how can I get an ECG on a bike?

In step our vendors and for the sporting event they’re loaning us a lightweight 12 lead ECG machine that we can carry on the bike!  This is in addition to what we are calling, and many agencies already deploy, a “First 10 minutes kit” meaning we can perform all the interventions an ambulance can in the first 10 minutes.  Since that is when we expect our other units to arrive (unless delayed) it should cover just about everything we can bump into.


sfo bikeLess than 48 hours after completing our training the target designed to activate the team was met and away I went for a 10 hour shift on the bike.

We didn’t even receive the bike unit polo shirts yet so there I was in my uniform shirt and some workout pants.

This photo is from one of the area employees who saw me pedaling by and said, “Alright Captain Schorr!  You got the bike!”

This program is more than 6 months in the making, heck I only convinced the local Police Bike Team to donate a beat up bike in July.  And there we were on December 18th in service and jumping calls.


If you had come to me in the CQI office 3 years ago, my nose buried in a spreadsheet, and told me I would be pedaling my way from EMS call to EMS call I would have laughed.  “The bike is not efficient logistically,” I would have told you, “You’ll need to ride in pairs for safety” would have been the next excuse.

Now that I understand the way this system can be deployed to fit this community’s specific needs and access to services, it makes perfect sense.  There are 5 of us trained and ready for the large sporting event when our activation target is projected to be met for 10 days in a row.

Next project?

Dunno.  Until then keep an eye out, I’m still learning to ride again!

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One Comment

  1. Andy December 20, 2015 4:02 pm

    Looks very professional. Great to see the hard work pay off. Glad your still finding ways to enhance your communities health care needs and pushing EMS into better places.

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