Cycle Response Units (CRU’s), their abilities, limits and key benefits.

Cycle Response Units (CRU’s), their abilities, limits and key benefits.

The GB-EMS Event Medical Service has been providing several cycle responders every weekend for the last few months (and some weekdays) to a variety of event types in a multitude of locations. With such a demand for the service, we are going to look into why they are so popular, what they can do, and what are the limitations.

What are their abilities?

Cycle response units are designed to be staffed by medics at “First Responder” level. At this level, staff can give advanced first aid, with additional skills like enhanced fracture and bleed management, additional skills to be used during a resuscitation, and ability to take and understand patient observations. This means that patients can gain a better level of care at the point of incident and can be more appropriately triaged by cycle responders and assess if they can be discharged at scene or need further medical care. The equipment cycle responders carry does change depending on the event or level of medic, however often items like AED’s, airways, catastrophic bleeding kits and additional emergency medications can be found in the pannier of a CRU.


Long distances are often a limitation as although our cycle responders have made it around half and full marathons, often it’s not fully practical or realistic to be covering these kind of distances. Steps or stairs in city environments can also be issues, as although our responders are able to traverse these obstacles, often it can hinder progress in an emergency situation. Another limitation is the inability to transport patients to further care as although cycle responders may be able to stabilise the patient at the scene, if a patient is in a bad condition, cycle responders will have to call for additional resources if hospital care is needed. Finally; deep mud and sand are often challenging for cycle responders to make suitable progress, especially when you take into account the additional weight of the medical equipment in the panniers. Again; although CRU’s often find a way round these obstacles, it’s may be more practical for a 4x4 response unit or off road ambulance to cover these areas.

Benefits and why they are so popular?

The main draw for event organisers is the ability for medics to respond rapidly in either off road situation or pedestrianised areas. With city and rural applications, CRU’s are generally sent to areas where vehicles can’t reach to provide a full coverage of medical care. In addition, CRU’s can often be quicker and more appropriate to respond to incidents, especially of it can keep a responding ambulance free for more severe patients. Cycle responders also help the medical team keep track of event progress away from medical centres and can often relay important information like back runner location or participant level on site, that might be hard for the medical team to accurately gauge.

In conclusion, there are numerous times where the GB-EMS cycle responders have played a vital role in providing effective patient care in a first person on scene capacity, and in many cases been able to get a patient to a stage where an on scene discharge can occur. Moreover; with such high levels of manoeuvrability cycle responders can often provide a key communication link to activities happening around an event site and help support both event organisers and the medical team in an array of activities.

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