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City's motorcycle first-aid plan undercut by doctor shortage

THE Shanghai Health Bureau is considering setting up a motorcycle first-aid service after Shanghai People's Congress Deputy Zhu Ru'an proposed the idea to address the city's ambulance shortage and traffic problems.

But the bureau said it would take time to establish such a service and there are not enough doctors to staff the ambulances the city already has.

Zhu Ru'an made the suggestion in January to improve response times for patients. An emergency doctor carrying a first-aid kit could reach a patient quickly by motorcycle.

"Beijing has already started such a service," said Zhu, vice president of Luwan District's Disabled Persons' Federation.

"A motorcycle-riding emergency team could be effective considering Shanghai's traffic condition and residents' lack of awareness about giving way to ambulances. If doctors arrive early it could save the patient's life or reduce their injuries."

The Shanghai Health Bureau said it would be difficult to introduce such a service now because of a shortage of doctors.

The Beijing Emergency Medical Center has not started operating its motorcycle service yet so it cannot be evaluated, the bureau said. The Beijing center is planning to buy motorcycles and send 10 doctors for motorcycle training.

"Shanghai has been improving its emergency service by introducing more ambulances and establishing more first-aid sub-centers," said Song Guofan, an official from the Shanghai Health Bureau.

"We are facing a shortage of doctors serving on ambulances, let alone having enough motorcycles," said Song. "What's more, many patients still need transport after receiving first aid."

The bureau said Shanghai had 500 ambulances at the end of last year and each requires two doctors. There were only 550 emergency doctors, leaving a shortfall of 450, which means sometimes ambulances cannot operate.


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