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New EMS bike medic team to hit streets in Bethlehem

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: May 14 2013 05:33:21 PM CDT
Updated On: May 15 2013 08:05:54 AM CDT

Some of Bethlehem's emergency responders will be rolling to the rescue on two wheels instead of four.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Some of Bethlehem's emergency responders will be rolling to the rescue on two wheels instead of four.

A new EMS bike medic team will be able to maneuver its way into places that ambulances can't.

This year, it's anticipated that 30,000 runners will participate in a number of different marathons. 

The Bethlehem EMS want to make sure they can treat runners out on the trail without an ambulance.

You won't hear sirens or see a big truck, but the medical attention will be top notch.

The Bethlehem EMS bike medic team will provide medical assistance during running events in the city.

"We talked about it for a few days and I decided that it was a worthwhile venture to pursue," said Gordon Smith, director of Bethlehem EMS.

That was last year after the 2012 Runners World Marathon when 12 runners suffered injuries.

"We get to get in there, get in quick, get a quick assessment to determine if we even need to move an ambulance or if we can use a support and gear vehicle," added E.J. Coleman, a bike unit paramedic.

The medics will train with police. Bethlehem Police Chief Jason Schiffer is a certified International Police Mountain Bike Association instructor, but he won't be teaching medics all the tricks of the trade.

"We'll teach them how to go down a set of steps, but do it very slowly and controlled so they don't break anything that they are carrying," said Schiffer.

The four men will travel in pairs carrying 20 pounds of medical equipment each. They'll hit the road in a month.

"It will be a great service," said Coleman. "Response times and access time is going to really benefit the people."

For now, the bike medic team will only work half and full marathons in the city.

The cost to start the unit will be minimal. The paramedics will borrow bikes from the police department until the EMS department purchases bikes for members of the unit.