By William Tauro
This past week, the Somerville Fire Department was training firefighters for a different type of life saving techniques on bicycles.
The training took place down in assembly Square behind the Amelia Earhart Dam where a couple dozen firefighters were on bicycles training for a different type of life-saving measures.
While the firefighters were on a routine training mission on location, a random fire sparked up on a MWRA fleet truck that just happened to be parked at the dam.
When the occupants of the truck tried to start the vehicle it ignited. The Somerville firefighters jumped into action and wasted no time extinguishing the fire out with fire extinguishers.
According to firerescue1.com
The key to fire department early emergency response medical service and early treatment and transport iscearly access to emergency situations with valuable response time saved
Fire and EMS providers across the country deal with routine response issues on a daily basis. However, the challenge to the routine is providing this rapid response during extreme crowds and in densely populated areas — and on a shrinking budget. EMS Bicycle Teams have become a popular answer to these challenges.
Bike Medic programs are found in large cities and small towns across the country. There are full-time teams daily deployed to high traffic in downtowns and airports. Most teams are part-time and used for special events and unique response issues.
Some teams deploy every weekend, and others just once or twice a year.
Public Safety Cycling started first in the law enforcement world. The modern day debut of public safety bike teams was in the 1980s by the Seattle Police Department. Shortly after police bike units hit the streets, their success became very evident — attracting the attention of EMS providers.
The benefit of being able to carry EMS equipment while having maneuverability in large crowds, tight areas and high traffic congestion became of great interest to Fire and EMS Providers. Another plus was the fact that they could get to the call faster than if they were on foot.
The first known fire department to purchase bikes for medical response use was the Indianapolis Fire Department in 1984 — and in 1989 they formally formed a team. Today there are more than 300 Bike Medic teams across the country staffed by fire departments, private ambulance services and public EMS providers.
In the almost three decades of EMS bike teams, most medical units are primarily used for special events, some have been deployed on a more routine basis. These teams have experienced many benefits.