Before turning our focus to bike culture and bike safety, we developed a system called the Lifebike for bicycle-based paramedics and EMTs to use at large crowded events such as July 4th, parades, sports events, etc.
Four of us prototyped the Lifebike in our Berkeley workshop, in time to throw it in a station wagon and drive to the national IPMBA (Cops on Bikes) annual gathering in Ogden, Utah. It was Ross Evans (inventor of the Xtracycle), Nate Byerley (inventor of the Bike Blender, now leading Xtracycle), and Mike Cobb (bicycle customizer and master seamster, now at Portland’s Clever Cycles), and myself. Prior to stepping into the prototyping process, Mike and I rode along with ambulance-based paramedics in San Francisco on two occasions, and interviewed bike-based paramedics.
The City of Boston was the first major EMS department to try the LifeBike, during a 3 month trial including the July 4th festivities in Boston.
The major advantages of the Lifebike, when compared to traditional EMS bike setups:
- Hightly customizeable with large foam-padded dividers similar to a professional camera bag. Position the dividers where you want them using the large Velcro strips. Then slide your gear in place. This is superior to the top-loading approach of pannier-based systems.
- Carries any size defibrillator, not just the miniature defib units.
- Carries a full size or folding backboard. You can immobilize a person, saving precious minutes while an ambulance or golf-cart style vehicle is making its way through the crowd.
- Top pack uses Xtracycle snap-hooks. You can grab it and walk up a flight of stairs without having to carry the whole bike.
- Top pack is insulated — good for IV fluids.
- Hard sides protect gear from pokes and kicks while moving through a crowd.
Now that we’re full-on with Rock the Bike, we no longer have time to push this project forward. We’re looking for a cool bike-based EMT or paramedic to take our prototype on extended loan, use it to the fullest, document it on Flickr and Rock the Bike, and help grow the project. Ideally it will be a Bay Area person, who would be up for taking part in bike events like the Bicycle Music Festival. If you know of people who’d be a good fit for this opportunity, please let us know.
Rock the Bike community members will be picking a new home for the Lifebike prototype in a poll that will be open on Sept. 1st-3rd. Until then, we’ll be accepting requests. To apply, simply add a comment to this post, explaining how you’ll use the Lifebike prototype.