Public can help expand pioneering cycle scheme in Norwich
Shops and businesses in Norwich are being urged to help raise vital funds to help the city's ground-breaking bike medic scheme to expand its life-saving work.
The scheme was launched in Norwich in 2000, the first in the country, as part of a one-man pilot and has since been copied in London and other parts of the country, including York.
And now, more than a decade after Iain Colquhoun became the county's first pedalling paramedic, the East of England Ambulance Service Trust has cycle response units in Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn, as well as Norwich.
But the bike, which can weave through busy streets faster than any four-wheeled vehicle to reach desperately ill patients, must carry special lightweight versions of the life-saving equipment that paramedics carry in response vehicles.
In fact, each state-of-the art bike costs �7,500 to put on the streets and it is hoped that Norwich as well as Yarmouth, Lynn and other parts of the county could one day have more bikes available.
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But if the pioneering project is to expand further and build on the great results it has achieved already, it will be increasingly reliant on members of the public helping to fund equipment and kit.
Bryan Edwards, an ex-policeman and former deputy manager and communications manager for the Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership, has been at the forefront of the fundraising drive.
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He said: 'I came on board for its launching in Yarmouth and thought it was an excellent service which promotes the ambulance service, but also reminds me of the days when I was a young policeman and was a bobby on the beat with that personal touch. It's bringing the ambulance service back into the public more because the public can see them.'
'We just want to make the public more aware that it costs �7,500 per bike and that we would like to be able to get two to three in the city and are also going to try and get it in towns and villages across Norfolk.'
Mr Edwards said they would be happy to hear from shops and businesses in the city that would like to stock a range of fundraising products, including donation tins, teddy bears, pin badges and wristbands.
Darren Rutterford, cycle response unit lead for the EEAST, said the bike, which comes complete with siren and flashing blue lights and weighs 45 kilos, attends more than 1,000 calls a year in Norwich city centre.
Mr Rutterford, 36, a father-of-two who has been a cycling paramedic for seven of his 10 years in the service, said: 'We deal with about 50pc of our calls ourselves which means the ambulance service isn't required to attend.
'For the January just gone, our call volume was up 40pc on last January; we're getting busier all the time.'
Anyone interested in stocking fundraising items for the cycle response unit can call Darren Rutterford on 07803 899919
Alternatively, anyone interested in donating money to the scheme can log on to www.justgiving.com/East-of-Eng-Amb-CRU