CONGESTION KILLS. THAT’S not hyperbole, it’s a fact. In dozens of cities across the world, heavy traffic, construction, and poorly maintained roads keep first responders from getting to patients in time. That’s where the Ambucycle comes in.

With a dual-sport motorcycle and a surprising amount of lifesaving equipment on board, an Ambucycle and its medic rider can reach the scene of an accident or the home of a patient in an average of 90 seconds. That’s lightspeed compared to the 20-30 minutes it could take a traditional ambulance to reach the same destination while dealing with traffic congestion and road closures.

The Ambucycle is the brainchild of Eli Beer, the founder and manager of United Hatzalah (“rescue” in Hebrew). At 15 he took his first EMT course and began volunteering with an ambulance service in Israel. But he quickly realized that every minute that passed between leaving the station to arriving at a patient’s door was a lifetime.

So at 17 he assembled a group of EMTs and a handful of emergency radio receivers to rush medical attention to those in need – sometimes on foot.

Today, 25 years later, Beer’s rogue band of first responders has evolved into United Hatzalah, a 2,000-volunteer army of medical technicians that can deploy on a moment’s notice. In just the last year the organization helped 207,000 patients, over 40,000 of which were treated for life-threatening emergencies.

The Ambucycles obviously can’t carry a person, but they can stabilize a patient long enough for an ambulance to arrive, thanks to an on-board trauma kit, oxygen canister, defibrillator, and more. The medics each have a smartphone equipped with GPS, allowing volunteers to be notified of an emergency in their vicinity and respond within minutes. Each year, the bikes serve almost 500 calls, one-quarter of which are life-threatening. And they do it all for free.

The cost of each bike – including the medical equipment, maintenance, and insurance – is around $26,000, and United Hatzalah is aiming to expand its fleet to 500 in order to meet demand in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other cities throughout Israel.

Beer is already in talks with organizations in India and hopes to expand the Ambucycle’s reach across the world. And if the terrain is too tough for their dual-sport, United Hatzalah has a four-wheel-drive Ambutractor in the fleet as well.

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