News, Operations

An Emergency Physician & Paramedic Recounts His Experience as a Motorcycle EMS Provider

I began my service in EMS and Fire at the tender age of 16. That makes it more than 25 years now of responding to the tones. I’ve worked in myriad roles: volunteer first aid, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, beach lifeguard, air ops, boat ops and as an emergency physician on a fast motorcycle response unit (MRU) in Hungary—by far my favorite job.

Quick response motorcycles offer an efficient and highly effective platform for both EMS and fire departments whose present resources are stretched too thin due to increasing call volumes and stagnant budgets. More than half the countries on the planet utilize two-wheeled vehicles in some fashion to respond to emergencies. 

Hungary was the first country worldwide to mount emergency physicians on very well-equipped fast response motorcycles that quickly worked their valuable way to the top of a tiered EMS system. 

In addition to working on the MRU, I’m also the president and founder of the International Fire and EMS Motorcycle Response Unit Association (IMRUA), a trade organization working on improving the working environment of MRUs around the world and increasing awareness of this very effective, efficient form of EMS and fire response.

A Memorable Call

One of my most memorable experiences from my years of service in an MRU occurred August 2016 during my last shift of the season just outside of Budapest, Hungary. 

It was an uneventful and rather boring shift that was about to end when I was dispatched at the last minute to a cardiac arrest located over 12 miles away in gridlocked traffic. And as it goes, it was a poorly marked building with the patient on the second floor, all the way in the back of the building. I made it to the scene and took all my equipment up to find the crew of a BLS unit doing CPR. I made a quick assessment and attached my monitor. I delivered the first shock less than 10 minutes after my initial dispatch. 

After a few rounds of CPR, starting intraosseous access, pushing cardiac meds and two more additional shocks, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved. The 12-lead revealed a massive ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and after just a few minutes, the heavyset male started showing signs of cerebral hemorrhage. It was now apparent that the fall from his myocardial infarction (MI) caused a hemorrhagic cerebral injury. 

Things were going south quickly. He needed to be sedated and his airway secured, but due to the trismus of his muscles of mastication, rapid sequence intubation (RSI) would have to be initiated. 

I decided that a simple ambulance was insufficient and I called the helicopter. RSI was initiated to secure the patient’s airway for transport. The patient survived with a good outcome and no neurological deficit—due in part to the fact that the EMS bike was quick and nimble through dense traffic and was equipped with enough medicine and gear to take care of even the most critically ill patients.

A Wealth of Experience

For more than five years I’ve had the opportunity to work half the year in the U.S. as a paramedic for American Medical Response (AMR) in Santa Barbara, Calif., and as a prehospital EMS physician in Europe. This rare tenure has allowed me real-time exposure and the ability to compare and contrast various prehospital medicine systems, protocols, treatments and the countless changing issues affecting our work and delivery of patient care. 

I’ve gained valuable experience helping several dozen EMS and fire departments worldwide as a consultant, gaining invaluable insight into the advantages and disadvantages of various EMS and Fire models around the world. I hope to use this breadth of knowledge and experience to advance the field of prehospital emergency medicine into the 21st century and beyond.

MRUs offer an efficient and highly effective platform for both EMS and fire departments whose present resources are stretched too thin due to increasing call volumes and stagnant budgets. Over half the countries on the planet utilize two-wheeled vehicles in some fashion to respond to emergencies.

The International Fire & EMS MRU Association Congress

The 5th biannual International Fire and EMS Motorcycle Response Unit Association (IMRUA) Congress is being held in Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 22–24, 2017. If your department could benefit from the use of motorcycle response units (MRUs), then this congress is for you. Along with providing actual exposure to MRUs and their riders from around the world, other topics such as emergency caesarean section in an unsalvageable poly-traumatic patient will be presented. For more information about our organization and the 2017 IMRUA Congress, please visit www.imrua.eu.