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Bicycles may be useful in the delivery of out-of-hospital emergency medical services. The use of bicycles in providing emergency medical services was investigated by surveying currently existing bicycle-medic systems.
Two questionnaires were developed to gain information on service areas, injuries, gear used, missions, and specific data from bicycle-medic response.
Of 210 surveys mailed to bicyclemedics, 21 (10%) were completed and returned by the pre-established deadline. Of 11 surveys mailed to bicycle-medic supervisors, four (36%) were returned. Preliminary results showed that 76% of respondents are career providers and the remainder serve as volunteers. Mean age for respondents was 33±7.4 years, with 96% being males. Most teams have been in existence for three to four years. Job satisfaction was greater when participating on the bicycle crews than when not performing on the bicycle crew, t = 4.15, p = 0.0002. The teams varied in size (6–100 persons) with a mean value of 31. On the average, team size represented 10% of total number of personnel for the respective organizations.
The majority of bicycle teams operate all year in all conditions. Most bicycle-medic teams were initiated for special events. Nineteen percent reported injuries while on duty or in training. Ninety percent of units that responded use existing agency protocols and have no special protocols related to the bicycle team. Eighty percent of the units are dispatched through the normal agency procedures. Eighty-five percent of respondents coordinate for transport units via dispatch. Reported response times were under two minutes for special event responses. These were within established agency response times. In approximately 25% of the responses, the patients refused transport, and another 65% of the responses were for relatively minor injuries or complaints that did not require transport to a hospital.
This survey begins to characterize the utilization of bicycles as a tool to gain patient access in specialized situations. The use of bicycle-medics may be cost-effective, may help to improve employee morale, and possibly reduce employee health-care costs. Further study is needed to determine the impact of bicycle-medics on patient outcomes and response times.
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