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First aiders' wheely fast service; Ambulance teams on bikes.

Byline: By CAROLINE INNES Health Reporter

THE ambulance service will use mounted medics to deliver rapid response first-aid at Merseyside's biggest events.

Paramedics will use mountain bikes to cut through crowds and provide emergency treatment until ambulances can get to the scene - if required.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) staff are now being trained on bicycle first-aid, to keep their machines in full working order.

The team will be deployed for the first time at the Tall Ships race and the Open golf at Birkdale.

They have also been put through their paces on a cycle fitness assessment and are not allowed to take to the road until they have completed the international police mounted bike course.

Paramedics belonging to the cycle response unit will be expected to attend all types of emergency calls, including the most serious category A incidents.

But some drugs will not be carried and the cyclists will need access to ambulances to obtain them.

An NWAS spokeswoman said: "In recent years, the number of traffic calming, exclusion schemes and pedestrianised areas has grown significantly in the city and in other parts of Merseyside.

"This has provided the ambulance service with many challenges in how best we serve our patients in terms of an appropriate response.

"Our cycle responders have provided a viable alternative to meet this demand and have also allowed the redeployment of other resources to more appropriate areas.

"Following successful trials, there has now been a development of a cycle response unit for deployment at sporting and mass gathering events in Merseyside where the use of a conventional ambulance would be hindered.

"Cyclists will respond to all calls, but they are unable to carry the same amount of drugs as ambulances, due to storage space and the security risk.

"So, in some cases, where the patient needs to be given medication, a fully equipped ambulance will also be deployed."

carolineinnes@liverpoolecho.co.uk

ECHO Essentials

Merseyside will have five cycles and 10 trained cycle paramedics.

Cycles have front and back panniers and carry a scaled down version of the full paramedic rucksack.

Cycle Response Units are equipped with automated external defibrillators, intravenous cannulation and first aid equipment.

Training is to International Police Mountain Bike Association level delivered over three days in London.

The initiative is being delivered at a cost of pounds 35,000.

All the cycles have been bought locally from north west cycle suppliers.

CAPTION(S):

RESPONSE: Simon Cunniffe, cycle paramedic for the city centre
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2008
Words:415
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