Texas may not seem to be a place where you would find progressive methods used for advancing safety; after all, the governor of the place threatened to secede over health care reform, among other things. That is not anywhere near the truth of what makes up the Lone Star State, however (and I speak from a native's experience). All I need say for some is "Dallas Cowboys," for others it would be Bill Hicks, Willie Nelson, Anna Nicole Smith (may she rest in peace), or perhaps NASA's "Mission Control?"
How 'bout that Austin EMS
Emergency Medical Services of Austin-Travis County has decided to employ motorcycle patrols to respond to emergency calls on Interstate 35 within the range where it runs through the eastern side of downtown Austin. The Austin EMS paramedics have been using motorcycles for at least two years in support of special events, but this will be the first time the department will have used this vehicle type for regular dispatch duty. It's a good idea whose time has come.
If you have been over this piece of concrete, you will know how chaotic it can get, how notoriously heavy the traffic is, and how the layout of I-35 in this section of the city can confuse the many tourists and rural visitors; madness only begins to describe rush hour during SXSW (South by Southwest music festival). The large and bulbous structure of your standard ambulance has difficulty navigating through this mess, and they often get stuck. Sometimes, the Austin EMS ends up involved in its own collision on the way to helping others.
Austin EMS Motorcycle Paramedics
Austin-Travis County EMS has investigated the use of motorcycles and learned that response time to traffic collisions on the portion of I-35 in question can be reduced significantly versus using a four-wheeled box. In many of the situations encountered by EMS personnel, any time saved can save lives – when seconds count, minutes may kill.
Emergency response will also become more efficient since an Austin EMS motorcycle arriving on the scene can determine if an ambulance is even necessary. The paramedic rider will have the tools, equipment and supplies needed to handle triage and many less severe injuries; if evacuation to a hospital must be done, Austin EMS can dispatch whatever they need while any victims are attended to by the professionals who got there quickly by threading a motorcycle through the traffic.
Austin EMS BMW Motorcycle
The Austin EMS's mount of choice is the BMW Motorrad GS 650 GSP 'Police Authority' model, which cost an estimated US$12,000 to $15,000. The department has four of them at present; three were donated – an incredible gesture in this time of extreme austerity – and one was covered through a grant. Nine Austin-Travis County EMS paramedics are officially trained to use the new BMW machines and the plethora of included equipment.
Each of the Austin EMS BMW motorcycles includes portable cardiac defibrillators, bandages, blood-pressure monitors, a variety of medications, and a host of other medical devices. Being designed and modified for law enforcement duty, the GSP is capable of going anywhere it is needed – the paramedics even received Austin Police Department riding instruction - but they plan on keeping to the paved surfaces as much as possible. In fact, most of the Austin EMS rider's duty time will be the morning and afternoon rush hour periods during the week on Interstate 35.
Saving Austin EMS Money
Austin is one of only a few cities in the United States using motorcycle EMS vehicles, but the number is growing steadily. Not only are they popular in many parts of the world, it turns out that they are often extremely fast on the scene, very effective in helping people, and incredibly inexpensive to use. That last part has interested many municipalities and is leading to the increasing adoption of two-wheeled safety vehicles.
Texas has led the nation with innovation before, despite the negative stereotype some may have in their mind, and in matters of life-saving health the state excels. The BMW-mounted Austin-Travis County EMS paramedics are cutting a new trail for the emergency services of cities all over the United States of America and should be a model for more like them.