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Motorcycle Response Unit rides again in the capital

Motorcycle paramedics will be back on the road again responding to 999 calls across London from today (Monday).A row of motorcycles in ambulance livery

When the pandemic started, paramedics from the Motorcycle Response Unit (MRU) were moved to other roles as we adapted our fleet in response to COVID-19.

In today’s relaunch, MRU paramedics will spend half their shifts responding to the most seriously ill or injured patients and the rest of their shifts working in the 999 control room.

Richard Webb-Stevens, interim head of the MRU, said:

“We are really excited to come back supporting the Trust and delivering a high standard of care to our patients by reaching the sickest the quickest.

“In life or death situations, every second counts and the freedom we have on a motorcycle to access areas other vehicles can’t reach means we really can make a difference to people’s lives.”

The relaunch comes 30 years since the Motorcycle Response Unit was first launched at London Ambulance Service as a trial scheme.

A historic image showing a 1990s LAS motorcycle responder responding on motorbike
A motorcycle responder from the early 1990s

Back in 1991, the motorcycle paramedics proved how useful they could be in reaching patients quickly in busy and congested areas.

They are often first paramedics on scene – most notably when they responded to the Westminster terror attack in 2017.

The bikes carry the same life-saving equipment as ambulances, including a defibrillator.

There are almost 30 motorcycle paramedics in the unit and they undergo rigorous riding training with a police instructor before they are recruited.

Richard, interim head of MRU with his motorcycle in ambulance livery
Richard Webb-Stevens, interim head of the MRU

Motorcycle paramedics will be based out of Croydon, Ilford and Waterloo but new technology on the bikes means that riders can now respond to calls throughout London.

Previously they have only been able to work in certain locations.

London Ambulance Service Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said:

“Not only are they back on their motorcycles, but they will also be using their skills in the 999 control room.

“These senior clinicians will be so important as we head into winter – they will be supporting crews in their decision-making and be available to talk to our patients. Our cycle response unit (CRU) colleagues are doing the same thing.”