EMS bike teams are becoming increasingly popular due to the many ways in which they can better serve the public. Having a bike team allows emergency medical services to be on the scene quicker, especially in situations where the incident occurs at a large event or in a densely populated area.
The newly implemented Cambridge Fire EMS Bike Team is proving to be a positive addition to the fire department. There are 28 members who serve shifts on the four well-equipped mountain bikes, prepared to come to the aid of Cambridge residents in a situation where emergency response is needed.
The team, made up of EMTs and paramedics, participated in a 16-hour course to be certified in urban emergency bike operation and response.
During the summer, team members are deployed in the neighborhoods and Central and Harvard Squares on Friday and Saturday evenings. They are also on duty for special and high-profile events to ensure that any emergency can be dealt with as quickly as possible. The importance of the bike team was recently displayed when they were first at the scene of a cardiac arrest call and were able to successfully revive and stabilize the patient.
In response to another recent emergency incident of a child’s hand trapped in a subway station fare-gate, two members of the Bike Team arrived on scene first and were able to extricate and treat the 7-year old’s injuries prior to arrival of the Engine Company and ambulance. This response confirms that the bikes can travel quickly over curbs, through crowds, and down stairs into a subway station fully equipped to initiate action.
The heavy-duty bikes used by the team weigh 26 pounds and coincidentally the equipment also weighs 26 pounds. In-service bikes carry saddle bags with EMS equipment including defibrillator, oxygen, bleeding control equipment such as gauze pads and tourniquets, Narcan, Band-Aids, ice packs and other equipment.
Each member also wears a portable radio to maintain constant communication.
Seen at the Independence Day Celebration, the River Festival, the Dance Festival, road races, and University commencements, the bike team is also contributing to other initiatives.
By using bicycles, they are promoting environmental sustainability, and by being more accessible to the public, they are improving community relations. It is difficult to have personal interactions with the people of Cambridge when in an ambulance, but on bikes it is much easier for EMS members to have conversations and engage with the public.
Learn more about the work of the Cambridge Fire Department.