23 juin 2020
Motorcycle ambulance allows halving a paramedic response time in case of emergency. No, it is not an opinion or a wish. It is a result obtained after years of experience and testing.
COVID-19 in Israel, the experience of paramedics and first responders of MDA with the motorcycle ambulances
The results have been brought by the experience of those who have been working on motorcycle ambulances for exactly twenty years and respond, official 2019 data, to 535,800 emergency response requests per year.
We are talking about the Magen David Adom (MDA), which with its 650 motorcyclists paramedics and 24-hour responsiveness on every day of the week, is an essential pillar of the emergency and rescue system of the state of Israel.
The function of the motorcyclist paramedics is not too far from the one carried out by many colleagues on ambulance cars, apart from the fact that the three-wheeled motorcycle is more performing in terms of time, in fact, and accessibility in places from the impervious floor, as may be the historic city centers, the beaches of coastal areas and many mountain sites. In saving lives, every minute is crucial.
When the priority is the immediate response. COVID-19 in Israel
Medical emergencies require an extremely rapid response time, just a few minutes. And it is undeniable, as any rescue driver knows, that response times of pre-hospital emergency organizations are affected by the presence of teams on the territory and by the “traffic” factor.
We had the opportunity to ask some questions to these talented paramedics from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, who kindly agreed to reply.
Magen David Adom’s work soon included responding to the emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But the MDA’s approach also presented some peculiarities that are interesting to explore.
Israel, the interview with MDA’s managers on COVID-19 outbreak management
How did you face such a demanding path?
Since February, the MDA, Israel’s national pre-hospital emergency organization, has been fighting the coronavirus. To date, the fear of a return of a COVID-19 peak is high, but the efficiency of the Israeli response makes us feel hopeful.
Much of what has been done by the MDA can be taken as inspiration anywhere in the world. Like the Red Cross, the MDA is not supported by the state, but by donations, especially from the Jewish community.
How did MDA respond so efficiently to an unprecedented pandemic situation?
A situation that has never been faced before. At that time several tourists who were visiting Israel were found positive at COVID-19. It was on February 22nd.
In response, the Israeli Health Minister conducted an epidemiological investigation and publicly announced the places these tourists had visited, asking all the citizens who had been in those specific areas to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Anyone who had a high fever, who had cough or breathing difficulties during those days should have called the MDA and taken a swab. Israelis who were exposed to the virus had to be isolated to prevent the community from becoming infected in turn.
And what was the response to this “call to responsibility” addressed to the Israeli people like?
Immediately, thousands of Israelis called the 101, and an operator put them in touch with MDA professionals. Many of them did not know for sure if they were exposed to the contagion. Some had been infected but had no symptoms, while others showed fever and breathing difficulties.
Despite this, they did not receive specific treatment because they did not understand the ramification of the symptoms. From that moment on, Israel’s war against the virus began.
What did the commitment of MDA volunteers determine, in terms of organization?
Immediately MDA replenished its operations centres by adding more volunteers and creating additional dispatch stations (call-answering desks). Paramedics with administrative responsibilities and paramedical apprentices have been trained to cover the role of call operators of a dedicated line and dispatch organisers.
In the same days, MDA trained thousands of volunteers who set up tents to accommodate any additional operating stations and transferred staff to companies and schools, closed due to the pandemic, to use their telephone lines.
The number of phone calls received by MDA increased exponentially. In times of “normality”, MDA involves 80 telephone operators who answer about 6 thousand calls every day.
By mid-March, MDA already had 500 telephone operators who answered 82 thousand calls in a single day. Since COVID-19 hit Israel, MDA has answered 2 million phone calls, making the call center the leader in the fight against the coronavirus.
All those who have been exposed to COVID-19 have been asked to stay in their homes in quarantine and in a room separate from their families. People who also presented mild symptoms were recorded on a dedicated tracking system.
The aims of this first phase were achieved, ensuring that all those who were found to be infected were quarantined without infecting other people. The next step was to swab those who were exposed and showed some symptoms.
In many countries, cases like these would have been transported to the hospital, but this would have meant moving these patients out of their homes and potentially allowing them to infect others. To prevent this, MDA professionals equipped themselves with appropriate PPEs, such as suits, and went to patients’ homes to swab them, thus preventing these patients from breaking quarantine.
Home testing was complemented by the Drive-Through centers that MDA organized in the country. So far, more than 260,000 Israelis have undergone the test. The way MDA has treated this crisis has served as a model that could be implemented in other areas, not only in response to COVID.
As a community service organization, the MDA can quickly expand its services, activate additional volunteers and take on other roles.
MP3 Piaggio motorcycle ambulance as an emergency response vehicle
The interview ended, and we made some reflections on MP3 Piaggio motorcycle ambulance, especially during COVID-19 in Israel. Actually, reaching various places to be checked with the method adopted by the MDA could be a valid solution and an example.
After all, the drive-trough is an approach that has obtained a certain approval also in other countries, like in Italy, (in the queue we put the related articles). May the future for a so-called “Phase 3” that combines national public health and the return to “normal” life be in this?
With rescuers who move quickly and leanly to the various places where a swab or other type of health care is suspected to be needed, and that any test reaches the laboratory centres for the results of the case just as quickly?
It does not seem to be a so foreign hypothesis: while it would speed up COVID-19 identification and isolation procedures somewhat, on the other hand, it would allow ambulances to be reserved for more usual and traditional emergency medical transport.