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Help is a Mountain Bike Away
By Herschel Grangent

Help is a Mountain Bike Away
With more than 231,000 passengers traveling through its doors each day, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is like a city unto itself.

And, like other cities, Atlanta visitors expect a quick response from emergency personnel. An ambulance inside an airport terminal, however, just isn’t practical.

Try emergency services on a bicycle.

“We started deploying emergency medical technician teams on bicycles in November 2007,” said Atlanta Fire and Rescue (AFR) firefighter Tina Foster.

“We use them during busy times to ensure rapid response in the event of a medical emergency.”

Public safety organizations, including AFR and the Atlanta Police Department, use bicycles for various situations such as routine patrols, navigating crowded streets, accessing busy parks, and, of course, in airports.

Emergency medical service bicycle units represent a smart choice because they allow for quick mobility. At Hartsfield-Jackson, EMS personnel on bikes can get through congested concourses faster than if they were on foot.

It also promotes a positive image of emergency medical personnel.

"This makes us
more approachable to children and adults alike."
“The interaction between the public and team members shows that EMS is more than ambulance drivers,” said Foster. “The job is the same, but the vehicle is different. This makes us more approachable to children and adults alike.”

The concept of using a bicycle as a means to transport emergency services dates back to the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1980, New York City’s EMS used motor bikes during a transit strike. It proved that the traditional system of deploying EMS providers may not always be the best way, and the practice spread nationwide.

Before they can begin riding a bicycle, EMTs must receive extensive training on fitness and nutrition, bicycle safety, hazard avoidance, basic bike maintenance, uniforms and equipment, legal issues and EMS safety, among other topics.

Each bicycle is equipped with toe clips, pedal straps, a rear-mounted kickstand, fenders, red blinking lights and siren devices. The bike’s rear rack is designed to hold emergency medical equipment such as an oxygen tank, disposable gloves and other medical gear.

The summer travel season will bring an increase in bikes on Airport concourses.

“Passengers began seeing more and more EMTs on bicycles starting Memorial Day weekend,” said Foster.

© 2008 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.


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