By Angela Woolsey/Fairfax County Times, June 8, 2018
Photo: Transurban presents a $10,000 community partnership grant to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco, and local fire department personnel, including members of the county’s EMS Bike Team, in a ceremony at Reston Town Center. PHOTO COURTESY TRANSURBAN
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department can now expand their joint emergency medical services bicycle team after winning a $10,000 grant from the toll road network manager, Transurban.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco, and personnel from both fire departments accepted the grant in a presentation ceremony on May 23 at Reston Town Center.
The joint EMS Bike Team enables first responders to assist in medical emergencies that occur in locations that are difficult to access for larger vehicles. The bike team is especially critical for densely-populated events where ambulances and fire engines might be slowed down by crowds and other traffic.
According to Vienna Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Morrison, the EMS Bike Team will use the grant to purchase four new bikes and four new automated external defibrillators.
“The increasing population, community expansion, and numerous mass gatherings throughout Fairfax County bring challenges such as vehicle access limitations that can lead to delayed arrival at a patient’s side,” Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Jason Jenkins said. “The Transurban partnership is an achievement for Fairfax County first responders and the community we serve.”
As the operator of the express lanes on Interstates 95, 495, and 395, Transurban has a quarterly grant program that supports organizations that benefit communities and the environment in the I-95 corridor.
The company decided in November to award a separate, one-time community partnership grant to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the I-495 Express Lanes, which opened in December 2012.
The grant was specifically intended for nonprofit organizations in the Northern Virginia region that dealt with the environment, safety, or the health, economic development, and well-being of communities in the region.
Fairfax County’s EMS Bike Team beat out more than 40 applicants to ultimately win the grant, because the team’s application addressed the criteria for both safety and community, while also fitting Transurban’s focus on transportation, according to Transurban spokesman Mike McGurk.
“We are excited to support the EMS Bike [Team] community partnership with this special grant,” Transurban North America vice president of operations David Mueller said. “Their team is a great example of the value in long-term community partnerships that help improve people’s lives.”
By providing funding for new bicycles and defibrillators, Transurban’s grant will give the EMS Bike Team more flexibility and allow it to increase its presence at community events and on county’s trails.
According to Morrison, Fairfax County’s EMS Bike Team is a shared program between all members of the Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, a partnership of the county’s 12 volunteer fire and rescue departments.
The team originated in the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department, but Vienna has served as its steward for the past six years in part due to the department’s proximity to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department is responsible for maintenance and houses the trailer used to transport the bicycles and emergency medical equipment to different events.
Though it is currently based in Vienna, the 15-person EMS Bike Team consists of personnel from several different volunteer fire departments and provides staffing at events throughout the region, from the annual Celebrate Fairfax festival to the Marine Corps Marathon.
The bike team also travels outside of Fairfax County, as when it ventured into Washington, D.C., to provide support to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department during one of the many marches that took place downtown over this past year.
Morrison says that the community grant from Transurban could allow the EMS Bike Team to increase in size, potentially bringing career firefighters on to join the volunteers, and to add a second trailer, though no determinations have been made as to where it would be located.
“I was very excited. This really is a tremendous resource for Vienna, Fairfax County, and the greater community,” Morrison said. “It’s a very specialized resource that…can provide a great ability to provide that quick response in emergency medicine, especially in densely packed crowds.”