Friday, July 4, 2014
When seconds count at crowded festivals and fairs, the Dorchester County EMS bike team is there.
Doug Warren, director of the Dorchester County EMS, said the EMS bike team is a group of specially trained medics who ride through Summerville events that draw a large crowd.
They’ll be at Red, White and Blue on the Green tonight, for example.
The bike team was created six years ago, with Joe Pirkel, director of the special operations team, as one of the strongest advocates.
“These guys move around an event, especially around a perimeter, more quickly than someone on foot,” Warren said.
Eric Phillips, paramedic crew chief, said they carry around the basics of medical aid, such as Band-Aids and gauze.
“Band-Aids are the biggest thing. We get constantly asked for Band-Aids,” Phillips said.
However, there have been times, especially due to heat, where the bike team has used their IV supplies on patients.
“There’s a lot of heat exposure and heat stroke. We do see a lot of that,” Phillips said.
Warren and Phillips both said they encourage others to stay hydrated at any event held outside, even their own medics.
“You don’t want one of your own becoming a patient,” Phillips said.
To be a part of the bike team, EMTs must be certified under the Law Enforcement Biking Association, also known as LEBA.
Phillips said the members of the bike team have endured specific training, such as low maneuvering through a crowd, safe riding in groups and riding with traffic, basic mechanics of a bike, and track standing.
Track standing is where an individual is balanced on the bike, two wheels only, for up to 20 seconds.
The members of the bike team are required to wear breathable pants and highly reflective shirts for visibility purposes.
Phillips said the biking program is beneficial because it allows quicker access to patients when needed. “In some cases those seconds do count,” he said.
In addition to the Summerville festivities, Phillips said the bike team is also active in public education.
“We work with the schools and MUSC a lot,” Phillips said.
The bike team participates mainly in bike rodeos at elementary schools, teaching children how to ride a bike properly and safely.
The rodeos usually consist of obstacle courses for the children to practice what they’ve learned.
Philips said he personally loved the bike program because he enjoyed riding so much.
“I think of it as childhood embodied…when I get on a bicycle I feel completely free,” he said, laughing.
The bike team consist of four members, including Phillips, Scott Chisholm, Erin Frisby, and Justin Miles.
“But we’re looking to expand,” Phillips said.