During a volunteer medical trip to Uganda in 2008, Mark Benden, PhD, CPE, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health, and Eric Wilke, MD, medical director of College Station Texas EMS, came up with an innovative idea.
Wilke saw a need for an emergency transportation vehicle that could navigate crowded and narrow streets in rural areas. Benden explains, “I see this as an option for rural patients who need emergency transportation but can’t get it from traditional EMS.”
Ambulances in the U.S. are typically around 13 feet long, eight feet high and struggle to maneuver through congested traffic. It’s also difficult for these bulky vehicles to maneuver in rural areas, sometimes taking more than 30 minutes to arrive to their destinations, according to Benden.
The AmbiCycle is a compact transportation device specifically designed to transport patients from the scene to the hospital. It’s about the width of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (approximately nine feet long), and has three wheels. The U.S. patent is pending, and a fourth-generation prototype is being evaluated internationally.