19 December 2017

Quicker In Queensland: Bicycle Ambulances

Police departments have long known that some "beats" can be more effectively patrolled by bicycle than in motor vehicles.  Such places include downtown areas, housing complexes, college campuses and almost any place where tourists and pedestrians congregate.  In such places, narrow streets or paths are difficult to navigate, or simply inaccessible, for motor vehicles, so an officer on two wheels can arrive more quickly than one who is behind a wheel.

Less common are ambulance bicycle fleets.  I am guessing it's because the idea so rarely occurs to anyone who decides on such things:  My searches have not yielded any reports of any city or other jurisdiction trying it and deciding it was a bust.

However, I have found out that in the Queensland, Australia city of Gold Coast, bicycle ambulances have been responding to calls in the Surfers Paradise and Broad Beach tourist zones.  The program is seen as so successful that the nearby city of Brisbane is launching a similar service. 

Gold Coast Bicycle Response Team

Officials hope that the Gold Coast and Brisbane paramedics on bikes will help to ease the extra burdens that will no doubt be placed on local emergency services when the 2018 Commonwealth Games are held in Gold Coast.  One sign that this is possible, and that the benefits of paramedics on bikes could extend well beyond the games, is that the average response time for a cycling paramedic has been, on average, eight minutes faster than that of an ambulance in a motor vehicle, according to Jane McDonald, one of the paramedics.  She recounts, as an example, a bicycle response team arriving four minutes after an anaphylaxis patient making a call.

Ms. McDonald herself might have something to do with those times:  After all, she raced and was considered one of her country's elite female cyclists.


  1. When I was visiting London last year, I noticed that there were several "ambulance" bicycles in the heart of downtown. It seemed very appropriate as many of the streets were narrow and crowded.

  2. Speaking of ambulances, similar vehicles were apparently once known as hurry-up wagons.


  3. David--I'm glad to hear that. London is ahead of us in some ways!

    Monkey--That's interesting. Actually, in some places (like the parts of London David mentioned), bicycles would be the "hurry up wagons"!