A method to reduce response times in prehospital care: the motorcycle experience

Am J Emerg Med. 1998 Nov;16(7):711-3. doi: 10.1016/s0735-6757(98)90185-1.


This study compared the response times of a motorcycle and a standard ambulance in a congested urban emergency medical services (EMS) setting. The study was performed in Taipei, Taiwan, a densely populated urban area. A basic life support (BLS) motorcycle (without defibrillation capability) and an advanced life support (ALS) ambulance were based at three study hospitals and simultaneously dispatched when there was a perceived need for ALS ambulance transport. Over a 3-month period, prehospital personnel evaluated 307 medical and trauma emergencies. Time data were insufficient for analysis in 33 cases, leaving a study population of 274. Response times of the motorcycle and the ambulance were prospectively assessed and compared. During rush hours, the response times of the motorcycle and ambulance were 4.9+/-3.0 minutes and 6.3+/-3.4 minutes (P < .05), respectively, and in non-rush hours, 4.2+/-2.1 minutes and 5.1+/-2.5 minutes (P < .05), respectively. Using motorcycles to transport EMTs to the emergency scene significantly reduced response time compared with a standard ambulance in a congested urban setting. Large prospective studies are required to determine the impact on patient outcome of shorter EMS response times using motorcycles. EMS motorcycles appear feasible and deserve consideration to help expedite prehospital care in other systems in densely populated cities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulances*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Motorcycles*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Taiwan
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Population