DOH's motorcycle ambulance aims to avoid traffic, save lives

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya may think traffic "is not fatal" in Metro Manila, but ambulances responding to emergencies are just as vulnerable to gridlocks as any other vehicle.

If indeed some of the solutions to ease the worsening metro traffic "will take time" as Abaya earlier said, then ambulances will have to cope for now.

But the health department is finding ways to save lives, traffic or no traffic.

On Tuesday, September 8, the Department of Health (DOH)-Mimaropa unveiled the first two motorcycle ambulance commissioned initially for far-flung areas.

"The idea talaga ay para mapuntahan kaagad-agad ng responder yung mga areas na malalayo, yung walang stretcher," DOH-Mimaropa Regional Director Eduardo Janairo told reporters on the sidelines of the graduation of the first group of paramedics in the Philippines held at the Diamond Hotel. 

(The idea is for responders to immediately go to far-flung areas – that's for the motorcycle without a stretcher.)

He added: "Pero nung makita namin ang Metro Manila...nakita namin yung motorsiklo naka-pass pero yung ambulansya hindi, sabi namin, siguro pwede na sa urban areas 'to. Kaya dinesign na rin for urban areas."

(But when we saw Metro Manila... we saw how motorcycles can pass during traffic but ambulances can't, so we thought, maybe we can use this in urban areas too. So this was also designed for urban areas.)

Only one of the two motorcycles has a stretcher, but both of them have the basics needed in responding to emergencies: defibrillator, oxygen tank, intubator kit, nebulizer, ECG machine, and emergency drugs. Janairo said minor surgeries can be done using this equipment.

The motorcycle is also equipped with the following:

One of the motorcycles – the one without a stretcher – will be given to the DOH's Health Emergency Management Staff for emergency response in Metro Manila, while the other one will be for Marinduque – a pilot area of the regional office.

Two new motorcycles will also be ready before the end of 2015, and 5 more in 2016. The goal for now is to equip all provinces in Mimaropa with a motorcycle.

"'Di tayo pwedeng mag-mass produce kaagad hangga't di natin nape-perfect yung mga problema diyan (We can't mass-produce until we have perfected the problems with the motorcycle," Janairo said. 

"Aralin nating mabuti how it operates, anong magiging problema, anong magiging gaps, then mape-perfect natin yan."

(Let's study how it operates, what will be the problems, what will be the gaps, and then we will achieve perfection in time.) –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.