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Victoria bike paramedic program: approachable healthcare at street level

The BCEHS bike paramedic program in Victoria is entering its third year and is resonating more than ever with locals and visitors in the provincial capital.
Victoria bike paramedics Cheryl Ridley and Joel Leech
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​Victoria bike paramedics Cheryl Ridley and Joel Leech

Bike paramedics have proven they can quickly navigate congested areas and large public events in the downtown core and initiate faster patient care while an ambulance is en route.

The program was launched in 2017 to help respond to the opioid crisis as well as increase emergency care coverage during tourist season.

“It’s really exceeded our expectations when it comes to the level of community engagement,” says district supervisor Tyrone Trotter, who’s been with the team since its inception. 

Community engagement and trust is important, especially when it comes to those at risk of an overdose or other medical emergency in the downtown area.

The bike paramedics are also an extra set of eyes on the street. “We are much more in tune with what’s happening in the area; we spot situations that may become an issue,” says Trotter.

The 18 members of the bike squad work seven days a week. Their visibility on the street level means they have adopted a much broader prevention role than initially anticipated.

“Seconds count for cardiac issues, breathing problems or serious, life-threatening injuries and it’s incredibly rewarding to see our crew ready to respond so quickly and help support the best possible patient outcome,” says Trotter.

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

In 2018, 142 ambulance calls in Victoria were cancelled due to on-scene bike paramedic patient care. Another 170 ambulance responses were downgraded from an emergency to a routine response (no lights and sirens).
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