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Bike paramedics return to Vancouver’s downtown streets

After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BCEHS’ Vancouver Bike Squad has returned to the downtown core this fall.
BCEHS' Vancouver Bike Squad with their bikes and equipment
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The Squad is back in the saddle as of September 4th and will ride until October 31st to help support and relieve some of the pressures on our paramedic crews.

Bike Squad paramedics provide the exact same medical care to patients as they would with an ambulance but are able to quickly navigate congested downtown streets, reducing response times to overdose, heart attacks or life-threatening injuries while an ambulance is en route. 

Bike paramedics can also improve the experience for patients with minor or less urgent health issues, potentially avoiding a trip to a hospital emergency department.

This year’s Squad includes four paramedics (Tom Venables, Troy Gienger, Chris Iregui and Darren Metta) with one squad (pair) deployed 9am to 8pm, seven days a week. As Squad lead Darren Metta points out, because the Squad is cycling on the downtown streets all day, they’re recognizable, approachable, and help serve as ambassadors for our patients and the community.

“Working on the Downtown Eastside Bike Squad is extremely rewarding as we can see the great overall patient satisfaction and better outcomes,” says Metta.  “On top of that it helps alleviate some of the strain on our ambulance crews. It’s a win-win for patients and paramedics.” 

So far, the numbers are very encouraging. In the first 10 days of being deployed out of Station 248 the Bike Squad has responded to 63 medical emergencies and 20 overdoses. That’s more than 10 per cent of calls in the area. Last year, from May to October, more than 1,000 ambulance calls in downtown Vancouver were cancelled due to on-scene bike paramedic care and the squad responded to a total of 1,612 calls.
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