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  1. #1
    vey
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    African bicycle ambulances are making a difference

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...fference-15807

    Imagine it's four o'clock in the morning and you or your wife goes into labour, but there is no transport to help you reach the hospital. Or you suffer from a chronic illness that requires you to make frequent trips to a distant hospital, but you have no way to get there and you keep missing your treatments, making the illness even more resistant to medication. Or you fall off your bike and break your leg and, again, no transport – you have to wait until someone can help you, and that might take a few days.

    Namibia in Southwest Africa faces enormous healthcare challenges, especially among its largely rural population. Its national HIV/AIDS infection rate stands at around 20 percent, and maternal mortality rates have doubled in recent years. The need for locally managed medical transport is more pressing than ever.

    In a recent assessment of the link between transport and healthcare, the Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia (BEN Namibia) found that people living with HIV/AIDS are hit hard by the lack of transport. Patients either miss their treatment because no transport is available, or spend most of their income (up to US$8 per month) on paying for lifts in private vehicles, leaving little money to pay for the food that is an essential part of their treatment. The situation worsens in an emergency, when rural dwellers may pay up to US$66 to reach the nearest hospital.

    In order to change this picture, in October 2006, BEN Namibia launched a bicycle ambulance manufacturing plant in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. Bicycle ambulances are ‘stretchers on wheels’ that attach to normal bicycles and tow a sick person or pregnant woman to a hospital or clinic where no other transport is available. In other African countries where bicycle ambulances are in use, there have been marked declines in infant and maternal mortality rates.

    BEN Namibia has distributed 54 ambulances, and more are planned for 2008. The ambulances are delivered to community-based organisations in the rural North of the country. Healthcare volunteers receive training in use, maintenance and reporting on the performance of the ambulance. A management discussion also helps partners address issues like storage, access and covering costs of maintenance. Volunteers report that the ambulances have been very useful for their work, enabling them to take clients to hospitals, clinics, or even to the nearest road where they can take a lift if the health facility is too far.

    The bicycle ambulance is not intended to replace motorised ambulances, but to fill a gap where no services are provided. Indeed, for most of Namibia, there is no public emergency ambulance system, and people often die because they can not afford to pay for private transport. Until Government is able to develop adequate policies and procedures on emergency medical transport, it seems that bicycle ambulances will have a role to play.

    Individuals can support the delivery of more bicycle ambulances. BEN Namibia’s US partner, ITDP, can issue tax receipts for all US donations. For every US$480 raised, an ambulance can be delivered to a Namibian community, along with tools, training and ongoing field support.

    Donations can be made through BEN Namibia’s website at www.benbikes.org.za/namibia.

  2. #2
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    I have seen the problems faced by peopel living "in the bush". Used to drive a pickup in the bush in a neighbouring country. My pickup was the only "ambulance" in the area, 2000 km2. The hospital was said to take care of 250 000 peopel, one doctor and my car (that was ment for a totally different job) was the only transport. AIDS, labour problems, snake bites, trafic accidents, peopel with big parts of the body burned after falling into the fire while having an epileptic "fit" and so on. This is no joke!

    Cars is no help when roads are bad, no fuel for months, and you spend months trying to buy a tube for a tractor. I`we tryed it all for 3 yrs. Imagine those living theyr whole life in those conditions.

    I worked with "appropriate tecnology" for many years, bikes is appropriate tecnology these countrys.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Buglady's Avatar
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    That's a really neat idea. It sounds as though these "ambulances" are a little like the travois system the Plains Indians used (only with a lot less bumps!).

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    Why are they designed to have the passenger riding backwards? Some people find that nausea-inducing.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mparker326's Avatar
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    I saw a documentary recently on PBS showing a similar concept with bikes in Africa. A relief agency was hiring locals with bicycles to deliver food to remote villages. This was the only viable transport as the roads/infrastructure had been destroyed by war & the rainy season. Each bike was loaded with 200 pounds of food on its rack and the rider rode or pushed the bike ~100 miles to remote villages.

  6. #6
    Senior Member strangeseraph's Avatar
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    This is great! I think people underestimate the power of bicycles for use by goverment programs, such as ambulances and police. We have bike mounted police in my city and they are great! Ambulances could then get through congested city traffic to get to accident sites by using the sidewalk or shoulder of the road!
    ~*~ Lee ~*~

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangeseraph View Post
    This is great! I think people underestimate the power of bicycles for use by goverment programs, such as ambulances and police. We have bike mounted police in my city and they are great! Ambulances could then get through congested city traffic to get to accident sites by using the sidewalk or shoulder of the road!
    Perhaps not for patient transport, but paramedics on something like a Kona Ute, Surley Big Dummy, HPM Long Hauler, etc. could carry enough equipment to stablize the patient until the truck-ambulance could work its way through traffic.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Perhaps not for patient transport, but paramedics on something like a Kona Ute, Surley Big Dummy, HPM Long Hauler, etc. could carry enough equipment to stablize the patient until the truck-ambulance could work its way through traffic.
    They are already doing that in some areas. IIRC London, UK does it and I know that some of our larger NC cities do it during festivals and fairs.

    Aaron
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  9. #9
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    This is great to hear. Love it.
    Cleveland, OH
    Breezer fan

  10. #10
    aspiring island dweller spinninwheels's Avatar
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    I ran across this article on the CBC website...

    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/1...a-edwards.html

    it looks like bicycles are making a difference.
    Life is either a wild adventure or nothing - Helen Keller

  11. #11
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Why are they designed to have the passenger riding backwards? Some people find that nausea-inducing.
    easier loading, just like a normal ambulance.

  12. #12
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    Last spring our community (8,000) sent over 80 bikes to Ghana through a program in Seattle. Check your local area for programs like this.

  13. #13
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    If you are near Chicago, check out Working Bikes. They have the largest foreign bike distribution network in the country. They send several shipping containers full of hundreds of fixed up used bikes to all parts of the globe.

    I spoke with a guy who worked with BEN Namibia and he said that while people were often grateful for the ambulance, they often asked "Maybe you could get us a regular ambulance next time?" Bicycles may be an appropriate technology to us but these folks still put a high value on motorized transportation.

  14. #14
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    I'd ask them if they could count on a steady supply of fuel and the funds to pay for it. If the answer is "yes", then a motorized ambulance might well be appropriate. If not, it would be a white elephant.

  15. #15
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    I spoke with a guy who worked with BEN Namibia and he said that while people were often grateful for the ambulance, they often asked "Maybe you could get us a regular ambulance next time?" Bicycles may be an appropriate technology to us but these folks still put a high value on motorized transportation.
    It does not really matter what they want, if it is impossible! I`d say stick to the bike ambulances! In countrys like that it is impossible to keep cars on the road for long, ewen if you`we got the cash. I`we sen ambulances parked on four bricks, all four wheels remowed. I spent six months trying to buy a tube for a rearwheel for a tractor. I had the cash (forex) and the contacts but still could not get it. I trained oxen and used them. Best development is a harness for the oxen so that they can get more power out of each animal instead of having problems when one of a pair dies.

    If a police car break down and is left on the road the wheels is stolen within houers. Cars is working here becouse we have the roads, the cash, the fuel, tha spares and the knowledge to keep them running. They do not have that. A broken down car can be left "to die" becose they think it stopped due to witchcraft.

    Bikes, donkeys and oxen is the way to go. Bad news for the donkeys and oxen!
    `

  16. #16
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    Spelling and grammar are your friends.

  17. #17
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Spelling and grammar are your friends.
    PMS ing again are we?? Or just grumpy?

    The day you write and speak my language as well as I write and speak yours I`ll listen.

  18. #18
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    Badmother, 10 points!

    Totally agree with you. Those idiots (luckily just few of them there) on the new continent never been out of their homestate and thinking Europe is part of Coney Island are just the worst thing one can imagine on our globe.

    But surely understandably from a person with limited brain capacity to comment on the spelling of those who can manage in multiple languages in civilized world.

    Just not to get too off-topic. Great issue the ambulance thing.

  19. #19
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    Me gusta mas leer el espanol bueno que el ingles malo. Anche piu l'italiano buono che l'inglese malo.

    Antes que se juega el juego, se aprende las reglas; esto es un foro anglohablante, y una de las reglas es el ingles. Si quiere Vd. un foro sobre el bicecletismo en su propia lengua, se puede fundarlo.

    Now that I have established my international credentials, I repeat: Spelling and grammar are our friends.

  20. #20
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Du vokser det nok av deg en dag.

  21. #21
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by traveller1970 View Post
    Badmother, 10 points!

    Totally agree with you. Those idiots (luckily just few of them there) on the new continent never been out of their homestate and thinking Europe is part of Coney Island are just the worst thing one can imagine on our globe.

    But surely understandably from a person with limited brain capacity to comment on the spelling of those who can manage in multiple languages in civilized world.

    Just not to get too off-topic. Great issue the ambulance thing.
    "Rulers of the world", soon bankrupt and approx 20% has got a pasport? Sorry the rest of you.

    I should be careful. many of them came from scandinavia so we could be related

  22. #22
    Senior Member rbrian's Avatar
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    Since we're talking about spelling, punctuation, and grammar, always a favourite subject of mine, I'd just like to say that badmother is doing very well - better than some who speak only English, and type only gibberish (not a reference to anyone here!). In fact, most of it is so good that it's only the curious apostrophes and substitution of V with W that really jars. If you type in capitals, in txt spk, with random acronyms, and too many Zs, nobody will notice the apostrophes!
    Be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Ghandi

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  23. #23
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    I`we had comments on my w`s before. Somebody asked if the V`s was missing on my keyboard

    Your v and w`s are pronounced "broader" than ours and you use w more often than us so I guess I write w to be on the safe side..

    The rest I did not really get. I am blond you know..

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by badmother View Post
    Du vokser det nok av deg en dag.
    Plattdeutch? Flemish?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Plattdeutch? Flemish?
    Sorry Elkhound,
    it's Plattdeutsch with "S".

    If you'd like to to shine with your language skills please take some basic lessons first.
    Grammar, dear Elkhound, grammar!
    Copy-paste of some spanish texts is not really a big evidence of one's intelligence at last.

    OK, I'll take a break and withdraw from this discussion as this won't lead anywhere. I just can't stand persons who think they are so much better than the others they need to comment on others' typos.

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