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Miami rescue teams turn to motorcycles in fight against time, traffic

MIAMI -- With sirens blaring and lights flashing, Miami-Dade County fire-rescue workers Roman Bas and Charley Hay raced through heavy midday traffic to answer a 911 call.

Before a firetruck had even arrived, the two men had evaluated the victim and fitted him with a neck brace. They also determined that the man -- who suffered a head injury in a fall from a second-story roof -- needed to be taken to the hospital by helicopter.

How did they get there in just four minutes? Souped-up BMW motorcycles.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue started using motorcycles this spring to respond to emergency calls. The department is believed to be the first in a major US metropolitan area to do so.

Rescue workers already ride motorcycles in England, Italy, Japan, and Malaysia, as well as in some smaller US cities.

Officials here hope the motorcycle team will cut response times for 911 calls by allowing fire-rescue workers to slip through Miami's traffic, which is among the worst in the nation.

The average response time in some of the most congested areas is about 15 minutes. In rush hour, it can take even longer.

So far, Miami-Dade has seen average response times of three to four minutes on the bikes, much like in London, which has used motorcycles since 1987.

In the United States, rescue workers in Nantucket, Mass., started using motorcycles in 1993 to maneuver through the island's narrow streets. '

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