Cycle Response Unit shortlisted for top award in sustainability

The London Ambulance Service’s (LAS) Cycle Response Unit has been shortlisted as a finalist at theCycle Response Unit Team member on their bike in Covent Garden prestigious HSJ Awards 2022 in the Towards Net Zero category for its pioneering work on sustainability.

This team of experienced frontline paramedics use bicycles to get through narrow streets, busy events and airport terminals, reaching patients quickly to start giving life-saving treatment. They use their clinical skills to decide when ambulances are most needed so that crews can be saved for the most urgent incidents.

Paramedics in the Cycle Response Unit have cycled more than two million miles responding to emergency calls since the team was launched in 2000, equivalent to 88 journeys around the Earth. By using zero-emission bicycles to respond to these emergencies instead of fuelled vehicles, the team has helped LAS save more than 1,100 tonnes of carbon from being produced.

A zero-carbon approach is taken throughout the team’s work, with compostable bamboo wipes used to clean bicycles, named water bottles used by colleagues to stop the use of single-use plastics and all waste items – including old bike parts – being recycled.

International health services have also benefitted from the team’s innovative approach. The Cycle Response Unit trialled the world’s first zero-emissions response vehicle for an ambulance service in 2017, using solar panels to power blue lights and sirens while charging medical equipment and communications systems carried by the team members. The team was also the first to pilot a scheme where paramedics on bicycles operated out of GP practices to deliver vaccinations and ease pressures on services.

The ground-breaking approach to sustainability taken by the Cycle Response Unit is a central part of the LAS Carbon Neutral Plan, which was published in April this year.

Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive of London Ambulance Service, said: “I am very proud of the work done by our Cycle Response Unit, which highly deserves this recognition after taking a leading role in making the London Ambulance Service even more sustainable.

“The team’s approach to reducing emissions is incredibly important as we work to continue to provide high-quality care while minimising our impact on the environment, better protecting the health and wellbeing of the people living and working in London.”

Tom Lynch MBE, Cycle Response Unit Manager, said: “It is an honour for our team to be shortlisted for the prestigious HSJ Awards in the Towards Net Zero category.

“We have been at the forefront of leading the only zero-emissions department in the NHS, sharing ideas, trying new things and bringing everyone with us on the journey. We have demonstrated that just from a small team and with a complete focus on patient care, you can make really significant changes. We aim to improve our service every day, helping to improve air quality for everyone. This approach goes right back to the sustainable suppliers we use and how we promote cycling day-to-day.

“I would like to thank all of our supporters over the years and to Team LAS, who do the most amazing job every day and night.”

In addition to the Cycle Response Unit, LAS recently launched a fleet of 225 new greener vehicles, including all-electric fast response cars and motorbikes, and new lighter emergency ambulances which use less fuel and create less emissions.

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