Hearing about an electric bicycle (e-bike) accident on the news is almost a daily occurrence in Israel, especially in the flatter regions of the country such as Tel Aviv and other coastal cities. Although often dangerous, e-bikes also possess an ability to assist emergency first responders. Electric rapid response bicycles are nimble, thereby allowing their riders to access spaces that motor vehicles, even motorcycles, cannot, such as narrow walking paths, alleyways, and parks. In addition, they allow for circumventing instances of bumper-to-bumper traffic. While regular vehicles wait in the standstill, e-bikes can easily cut through, or go around traffic congested roadways.
United Hatzalah of Israel is currently testing different models of e-bikes to determine which will best provide EMS response in highly congested areas such as the Geula and downtown neighborhoods of Jerusalem as well as certain areas of Tel Aviv where the bikes are popular modes of transport. The organization currently has two active e-bike EMT riders who use the vehicles as transport to emergency scenes.
One such test case occurred recently when an e-bike was used to save the life of a 5 month-old baby girl. The incident occurred on a night towards the end of December, just after 10:00 p.m. The mother of the baby girl was nursing her daughter when she saw that her child had suddenly began choking. The alarmed parents called United Hatzalah and EMT Yehuda Fachima, an e-bike rider, was dispatched. Yehuda used his E-bike to race through the narrow alleys of Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood in order to cut down on response time. Yehuda arrived in 60 seconds from having received the alert, far ahead of other responders who were traveling to the location in their cars.
As Yehuda crossed into the apartment, he found that the baby was in distress and already beginning to turn blue. The baby’s mother cried out to Yehuda and begged the EMT to save the child’s life. Yehuda immediately picked up the baby, tilted her downwards and gave her sharp and measured back blows to dislodge the fluids trapped in her airway. Moments later, the baby once again began breathing normally. Yehuda continued to treat her by administering oxygen to stabilize the infant’s condition and informed the grateful parents that their baby was now out of danger.
The ambulance arrived 7 minutes later and the only thing left for the crew to do was to transport the infant to the hospital for observation. While one incident is not enough to prove the effectiveness of the use of an e-bike for emergency response, in this instance, it proved to be crucial in saving this baby’s life and keeping this family whole.