|An ambulance is stuck in a traffic gridlock in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.|
Motorbike ambulances could provide quicker emergency services.
Bad traffic kills in more ways than one. Of course, there are the accidents we see and fear, but thereâs also a more silent killer: traffic jams that hold up ambulances. Patients caught in gridlock often donât receive the attention they need in the time and too often die because of it.
Thatâs where MotoMedics comes in.
The new motorbike-ambulance service could be up and running by the end of 2010 and its organizers say it will be able to reach patients quicker and deliver them to the hospital in far less time than traditional ambulances.
âEvery minute counts,â MotoMedics co-founder Kathryn Lankester told Thanh Nien Weekly. âBringing victims to the hospital faster can save money and lives.â
âThe existing ambulance system canât meet the demand in Vietnam,â said co-founder Aaron Pervin, adding that MotoMedics would employ trained medics to respond to emergency calls on motorbikes.
Lankester said the Vietnamese ambulance system was currently unable to reach people during the critical window of time after a life-threatening event.
Many Hanoi residents live on small streets that are unreachable by ambulances, she said.
She said many ambulances ran into road barriers caused by construction projects, which often cause gridlock and traffic jams that make medics late.
Both Lankester and Pervin said motorbikes would be able to move more swiftly through the traffic and could reach residents directly at their homes, no matter how deep or narrow the alley.
âThe motorbike model has been successfully applied in Singapore,
England, the United States and Australia,â said Pervin, a certified first responder in the United States who previously served as the Research Director at the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, first in Ho Chi Minh City and later in Hanoi.
âResponse times in areas covered by the service will be twenty minutes or less,â he said.
The average ambulance time is so slow that many people simply donât have faith in ambulances and call taxis instead, said Lankester.
Tran Van Nam, director of the 115 Center for Emergency Medical Service, which dispatches ambulances, said 85 percent of the sick and injured people rushed to local hospitals recently had found their own means of transport rather than calling ambulances.
âVietnam has the infrastructure to support motorbike first responders,â said Pervin. âThe country has already created a dispatch service for ambulances. A partnership can be created so that they can also reach motorbike ambulances.â
Pervin said he hoped that local authorities would help facilitate the project. He said with the proper support, MotoMedics could open in the next 6-8 months.
âWe are looking for Vietnamese partners, including a manager and a team of responders.â
He said the project would launch first in just one Hanoi district.
âInitially, we expect to hire 10-15 responders using five motorbikes to offer the service 24 hours a day.â
Lankester said the first responders would receive an 80-100 hour training course on how to stop severe bleeding, stabilize broken arms and legs, and help with respiratory problems.
âThe most important is pattern assessment, so they can know how bad the injury is, what part of the body is hurt, and what type of injury it is,â said Lankester, who served for a year as the Development Manager at the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation in Hanoi. She also taught first aid for four years as a certified first responder in the US and served as a volunteer on her local ambulance corps in Tarrytown, New York.
She said the MotoMedics idea was being supported by the Red Cross and that Vietnamese management students were helping by volunteering as responders and by offering advice on a business plan for the venture.
But Lankester, who was the co-coordinator of the Health Education and Rescue Training program at Princeton University, also said the program was not about money.
âOur goal is not profit, but a sustainable social service offering people quicker medical care at a lower cost.â
Reported by Bao Anh