by Therese Apel , The Clarion-Ledger, April 13, 2017
At the next major event in Jackson, you just might see paramedics using their bikes to be more mobile in the crowd. The Clarion-Ledger
(Photo: Sarah Warnock/For the Clarion-Ledger)
A group of paramedics and EMTs from American Medical Response became the first bike medic team in the state on Thursday.
In crowded situations, it can be difficult for an ambulance to navigate through dense groups, wasting valuable time when lives are at stake. That and some mountain bikes in storage made AMR Operations Supervisor Eric Phillips start looking for options for his team to be more mobile.
"I've been dealing with a lot of event medicine stuff lately, reading where it’s beneficial in other areas. A lot of large cities use it extensively," Phillips said. "I recognized the usefulness, and reached out for places we could take a class."
That's how he found William Trussell, the CEO of Advanced Police Training out of Biloxi. Trussell's organization offers advanced police training across the country and around the world, and he has trained bike medics through the International Police Mountain Bike Association since 2012. Police departments have had bike teams for years, but fire and EMS bike teams are much more rare.
"This is getting the first recognized bike unit in the state of Mississippi — in our history — certified for EMS so they can respond better and more cohesively in the areas vehicles can't get to," Trussell said.
In the course, nine students — six paramedics and two EMTs from the metro area and one paramedic from the Coast — learned to ride their bikes through tight spaces, between cones, in circles, and up and down stairs. They also learned practical tactics like how to fall safely and how to use their bikes as barricades to keep gawkers and bystanders at a safe distance from the patients.
Phillips said the bike team won't be on bikes daily, just during the capital city's many special events. But during the times they are, their purpose will be to get to a patient during the crucial early moments that count after an injury occurs or the onset of a medical condition.
"We're worried about providing that first five to 10 minutes of care," he said. "We'll be in the crowd, able to get to them and isolate where they are and provide immediate care long before the ambulance gets there."
The bikes are equipped with three saddlebags each that carry the medical kits, including a defibrillator, that are needed for those kind of situations. While they don't have all the supplies stocked in an ambulance, they have enough, officials said.
The medics themselves are wearing helmets and following the rules of the road, AMR officials said, and the bikes provide AMR's medics with a chance to get exercise.
"When they’re not responding to an emergency, our medics can have good conversations with folks at the event," Phillips said. "We’ll stop and talk with youngsters about safety. So, it’s great public relations. It’s also good for our medics’ and EMTs’ health and morale, too.”