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Los Angeles FD Tries Out Motorcycle Response Team

Strategic Placement or Response Time Gimmick?

THE LOS ANGELES CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT IS trying out an experimental motorcycle response team, a five-man unit that can speed to the side of an injured victim, provide information to dispatchers and skirt traffic to scout fires and other problems.

LAFD photo via Wildfire Today

The Los Angeles Times tells us:

Fire departments serving traffic-snarled cities around the nation have adopted similar motorcycle teams to improve response times, staff special events and, in some cases, save lives and resources. As the L.A. department faces budget cuts and intense scrutiny over response times that lag behind national standards, some believe that a roving motorcycle unit could help the department.

The pilot unit features five off-road-capable motorcycles on loan from the Kawasaki Motor Corp. Each bike retails for about $6,300 and is outfitted with a defibrillator, a small fire extinguisher, various medical supplies and a handlebar-mounted GPS system. A dozen firefighters have undergone the necessary training, and a permanent unit could have up to 10 motorcycles and 28 riders, said Capt. Craig White, who first proposed the unit to the department.

During the early part of the trial period the team was used to scout a major wildfire by scampering around the fire with their GPS units recording their locations before the fire helicopters reached the scene.  The  LA Times continues:

In addition to scouting fires, advocates say the motorcycle response team could also help save lives. When a heart attack occurs, the American Heart and Lung Assn. says, irreversible brain damage can begin after four minutes. Motorcycle-borne medics equipped with defibrillators in Miami cut response times from an average of seven minutes to less than three in some places, said Capt. Roman Bas of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

"Absolutely it saved lives," Bas said. "And it saved money too."

Bas said deploying motorcycles instead of ambulances and trucks reduced fuel consumption and extended the working life of more valuable emergency response vehicles, which were used less. He had planned to expand the program to 12 battalions, with a roving motorcycle response unit to cover multiple areas of the city. But Miami's motorcycle medic unit was dismantled in 2008 after departmentwide budget cuts.

The officers involved with the program hope that they can obtain state and/or federal grants to make the motorcycle unit permanent.  LAFD Chief Brian Cummings said motorcycles could be "one of the solutions" the department considers for improving response times.  (Firegeezer notes that the fire chief has been strongly criticized since March when it was disclosed that the department was usuing false figures to coverup rising response times after shutting down several fire stations.  See the Firegeezer report from March 18 HERE, and March 11 HERE.)

LAFD

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Comments - Add Yours

  • mr618

    Why do I sense a new TV show in the offing? Like maybe something called “LAFiD” with Randolph Mantooth and Eric Estrada?
    I suppose this motorcycle is worth a try, since it seems to have worked in Miami (until funding ran out).

  • http://www.facebook.com/emark.baland E Mark Baland

    This is certainly not new here in the States or around the World. And I’ve suggested it in my own agency. It won’t be tried in most places sad to say, but it does offer benefits to Patients.

  • BH

    I guess we’re going to ignore all the evidence showing response times don’t matter on most calls. All about appearances.