Motorcycle Medics To The Rescue

In traffic-choked Miami, midday is a tough time for a 911 call.

But, as CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, it's no problem for motorcycle medics trying to beat the clock to get to an elderly man having trouble breathing.

The medics arrive twice as fast as the rescue squad, despite traveling twice as far.

Cardiologists say help arrives too late to save roughly one-third of all heart-attack patients.

So Lt. Roman Bas of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue had an idea: motorcycles.

"We carry the AED defibrillator," says Bas. "We carry the oxygen bottle."

First, Bas convinced the county then persuaded BMW to donate the bikes.

In a case of cardiac arrest, the benchmark for emergency response is six minutes - any slower and survival rates drop fast. On these bikes, paramedics typically average a response of less than three minutes.

"Everything that the American Heart Association says that we need to do within three to five minutes we can do with the equipment on this bike alone," says Bas.

At dusk on the Florida Turnpike, Bas responds to a driver who lost control and hit a wall.

He soon suspects she has internal injuries.

"She says she feels like she's bubbling inside," says Bas.

He then orders her evacuated by helicopter.

In emergency medicine, experts say, timing is everything.

"The ability to be there, recognize the problem and treat within three minutes, rather than eight to ten minutes, will be the difference between people living and dying," says Dr. Ted Feldman, with South Miami Hospital.

Those extra minutes will give people in trouble a fighting chance.

This time, it's a woman with chest pains at the airport.

And once again, Bas and his crew are off.