Bike paramedic trial ended

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A CYCLE paramedic response unit in Harrogate is to be discontinued after health chiefs deemed the service too inconsistent to be effective.

The suspension of the service, which was trialled in the town over May, June, July and August of this year, follows the suspension of similar dedicated teams in Sheffield, Leeds and Hull, with York the only town set to retain its response units, which have proved successful since launching there 10 years earlier.

Mark Inman, head of operations at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), told the Advertiser he was delighted by the response from people in Harrogate throughout the trial.

He said: “What York has got that Harrogate hasn’t is a very densely populated town centre with restricted traffic access and four million tourists a year.”

He said that while in York, the bikes were able to access areas that ambulances struggled to get to, Harrogate as a more open town centre did not necessarily have the same problems for an ambulance trying to reach an incident.

Mr Inman, who was the first cycling paramedic in the north and responsible for both initiating and evaluating the trial, admitted that the cycle response unit in Harrogate had had notable successes but that their deployment had been sporadic at best, with the busiest days seeing them visiting up to seven incidents and none at all on quiet days.

“The bike was successful in that it was able to get to emergencies in the town centre and often quite quickly, before the ambulances, in some cases leading to ambulances being able to stand down,” Mr Inman said.

“In terms of being able to deliver an effective medical response it worked.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to predict the need for the unit with any degree of success.”

He said that YAS had kept the specially equipped mountain bikes and would continue to use them in Harrogate on special occasions.

That could include events like the Great Yorkshire Show, when the town centre reached unusual levels of congestion and the response team would be able to add a valuable dynamic to the ambulance service’s ability to respond to any incidents, but that no such events were currently in their future planning.

Mr Inman was keen to thank the people of Harrogate for their support during the trial, calling them friendly, helpful and supportive and commending local businesses for providing shelter when the weather was inclement.

“It was a show of good old fashioned Yorkshire hospitality,” he said.