By Martin Graham
PARAMEDICS are swapping blue lights and sirens for bike clips and bells as they try out electric bikes in Edinburgh.
Emergency response staff have been using mountain bikes for around three years, but it is hoped the new electric bikes will cut response times and make it easier to carry the 40 kilo medical kit.
Bikes are used at major events like the festival where crowds of people mean that using vehicles is impractical.
Paramedics on bikes can save vital time in getting to patients to offer treatment, even a few minutes could be the difference between life and death.
The new electric bikes will be trialled for the next six months and will be deployed during the festival fireworks display, the Pope’s visit and the Christmas period.
Paramedic Joel Symonds was enthusiastic about getting to patients more quickly using the new bikes.
He said: “We can now pedal uphill far easier and faster and it makes it easier when you’re carrying 40 kilos of equipment on the back.
“Things like moving through traffic or climbing up the Mound are now a breeze.
“In my experience, comparing last year on the mountain bike with this year on the electric bike, I’d say I’ve probably cut one or two minutes off my response time.
“I will be compiling a report at the end of the trial as to how we found them as emergency response vehicles and we have nothing negative to say about them.
“We are very excited about them.”
Edinburgh’s paramedic bikers are often first on the scene of an injury and provide vital care until an ambulance arrives.
They cover an area of five-square-miles in the city and also deal with falls and cuts within their patch.
The electric bikes have been donated for the duration of the trial by the Electric Cycle Company from the Granton area of Edinburgh.
Company Boss Neill Hope met Joel Symonds at the Royal Highland Show when Joel was working on his mountain bike.
Neill said: “It makes it a lot easier to carry their kit and to work in crowds.”