Paramedics on two wheels offer healthcare with improved flexibility, mobility, and speed in some scenarios
For the past four years, residents and visitors to Izola, a small coastal city in Slovenia, have benefitted from a unique service – paramedics on bicycles. Initially, the idea came about when considering the best way to deliver first-aid services to participants of the Istrian Marathon, which was hosted in the city.
Igor Crnić from the Izola Health Center explained for Radio Slovenia how the idea was born: “When we realized that the paramedics have to follow (the race participants) even where the ambulance cannot, and that they have to get to the scene of the accident as quickly as possible so that the injured or accident victim can more easily wait for the ambulance.”
Now implemented during other peak times following the scheme’s success, this service highlights the advantages and adaptability of alternative transportation methods to motorized vehicles – particularly in narrow or crowded spaces. Today, first-aiders ride specialized e-bikes, fully equipped with the necessary equipment and adapted for unpaved path riding.
The paramedics on bicycles are on site every weekend in the summer and during holidays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. They are connected to the dispatch center, which is aware of their location at all times and, if necessary, will call them in to intervene. Last summer saw 26 interventions by bike-riding paramedics.
The most common cases were of sudden weakness and injuries, which can be treated directly on the ground. Thus, the emergency medical aid system elsewhere is somewhat relieved, says Crnić, who is satisfied that the project is no longer dependent on volunteer work: “The Municipality of Izola pays the Health Centre Izola, which, according to the contract, pays the rescuers who perform the work. But we’ll see how it goes in the future.”