The Slovenian coastal city of Izola is a popular place for holidays and weekend trips to the coast. For the last four years, it has provided a rare but highly efficient health service to its visitors - ambulances on bicycles. The project started as a voluntary service by employees of the Rescue Service of Slovenian Istria (Reševalne službe slovenske Istre) using two of their own bicycles.
Today, paramedics ride specialised electric bicycles adapted to unpaved paths. They are fully equipped as usual ambulances but simply with smaller quantities. The service is on site every weekend in summer and during holiday season from 09:00-17:00. The bicycle rescuers are fully connected to the dispatch centre which allocates them to emergencies both at the beach site and in nearby settlements of Izola. In 2021, paramedics on bicycles intervened for health emergencies 26 times during the summer. The most common cases were sudden weaknesses and injures that were able to to be treated directly on the ground.
The idea for paramedics on bicycles originated over 10 years ago from the need to come to the aid of participants of the Istrian Marathon. Igor Crnić from the Izola Health Centre explained how the idea was born: "It was when we realised that the paramedics have to follow (the race participants) even where the ambulance cannot, and that they have to get to the scene of the accident as quickly as possible so that the injured or accident victim can more easily wait for the ambulance."
Today the paramedics on bicycles form a fixed part of health services, which is financed by the Municipality of Izola and is delivered by the Health Centre Izola.
Photo Credit: Reševalna služba slovenske Istre
Article published first at TheMAYOR.eu on 4 August 2022.