Help is a Mountain Bike Away
By Herschel Grangent
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.
more approachable to children and adults alike."
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
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
“Passengers began seeing more and more EMTs on bicycles starting
Memorial Day weekend,” said Foster.