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The bike ambulance is fully equipped and ready to go when needed, Source: Reševalna služba slovenske Istre

Bicycle ambulances come to the rescue in Slovenian beach town

Bicycle ambulances come to the rescue in Slovenian beach town

Paramedics on wheels have the ability to provide more mobile, flexible and rapid healthcare services

Izola is a small coastal city in Slovenia, which charms with its fishermen's heritage and Italian-style architecture. Visitors to that town have also been able to enjoy kind of a unique service in the past four years – paramedics on bicycles. The project came to life four years ago with two of the rescuers’ own bicycles and the voluntary work of employees of the Rescue Service of Slovenian Istria (Reševalne službe slovenske Istre).

The idea itself is even a little bit older, though. It first came about as a concept more than ten years ago in relation to providing more efficient first aid services to participants in the Istrian Marathon taking place there.

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."

Increasing use of micromobility for public services

This story shows the adaptability and the advantages that soft mobility devices can hold over motorized vehicles, especially in narrow and crowded public spaces. The rescuers now ride on specialized electric bicycles, which are adapted for riding on unpaved paths and are fully equipped. 

"Everything that is in an ambulance is also on a bicycle, but in a much smaller quantity." For the record, last summer, they intervened 26 times.

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 centre, which is aware of their location at all times and, if necessary, calls them in to intervene. 

"We also enter nearby settlements in the Izola area, if the dispatcher sends us, otherwise we do not patrol there. We only do this along the sea from Simon's Bay to Svetilnik and along Parencana along the sea to the border with the Koper municipality," added Igor Crnić.

The most common cases were cases of sudden weakness and injuries, which were treated directly on the ground, thus relieving the emergency medical aid system somewhat, 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."

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