Every minute counts when a medical emergency strikes, and to ensure that paramedics get to patients as quickly as possible the City of Carlsbad has deployed bike medic teams in the downtown Village and beach area.
The teams consist of two paramedics who respond to emergencies on electric bikes during busy weekends and large events. The teams carry first-line emergency medicine and medical equipment and can navigate through crowds to reach someone who needs emergency medical attention.
“We’re always looking for ways to get quick response teams to an emergency more quickly,” said City of Carlsbad Emergency Services Manager Linda Allington. “The bike medics are able to get to the hard-to-reach areas more quickly and call in an engine if needed.”
The bike medics began serving the downtown and beach during the summer, when the Village and beach were populated with visitors. They serve as an adjunct to the usual response of a fire engine or ambulance crew. The bike medic teams have proven effective during large events like the Carlsbad Village Street Faire, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city.
“We decided we wanted an innovative response because of all the activity in the Village on weekends and during large events,” said Carlsbad firefighter/paramedic Drew Bessant, who heads the bike medic program. “It can be hard to get large vehicles in quickly when the Village is congested.”
Allington noted that bicycles also have the ability to go places that fire engines sometimes can’t.
“Some of the areas on the beach are hard to reach,” Allington said. “Our bicycle teams can get down there and assist lifeguards, size up the situation and determine what resources are needed.”
The paramedics’ bicycles are equipped with electric motors so they can get to an emergency as quickly as possible.
The City of Carlsbad Fire Department modeled the bike program after a Carlsbad Police bicycle patrol program.
“We have about six mountain bikes,” said Carlsbad Police Sgt. Steve Thomas. Officers who serve the schools when classes are in session will mount bikes and patrol the downtown area and sea wall during the summer when school is out.
“Depending on staffing we occasionally have officers patrolling on weekends,” Thomas said.
The Police Department recently received a grant to purchase new bikes, which will boost the program.
Allington said that 13 firefighter/paramedics have been trained as bike medics so far, and the Carlsbad Fire Department plans to train 12 to 15 more.
“It’s another level of service we’re able to offer,” Allington said. “The bike medics are also good ambassadors for the city, working very closely with the community.”