The units will be used at all the area's major events.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Injuries at events that attract large crowds and the bulky ambulance truck that lurches through the crowds with lights and sirens blaring in an attempt to reach the sick or injured are virtually inevitable.
At this year's Canfield Fair, however, injured fair-goers will not hear those sirens or see the familiar truck coming to their assistance. Instead, Rural Metro Ambulance paramedics will be making their way through the crowds on bicycle.
Pat Hughes, Rural Metro Ambulance, said the bicycles will carry a scaled-down version of all the equipment found in a full-sized ambulance. He said the two-wheeled emergency units will make navigating through crowds much easier.
"For years we have covered the Canfield Fair and we have always said it was difficult to get through the crowds out there," said Hughes. "We had always talked about what would be an easier way to reach people out in the fairgrounds, so a bunch of us who ride bikes got together and made a proposal to the company for medics on bikes."
According to Hughes, paramedics' riding bicycles during large events has been catching on quickly around the country, but the Rural Metro units will be the first in the area.
Carries equipment: Hughes said a bicycle unit will consist of two paramedics riding separate bicycles. One bicycle will carry all the necessary medical and oxygen equipment. The second bicycle will carry an oxygen tank and heart monitor.
The cycling paramedics will offer all on-scene treatment to injured parties, but will not transport anyone. Hughes said each time a bicycle unit is sent to a location on the fairgrounds, an actual ambulance will follow, arriving, theoretically, moments after the bicycle unit. It will be determined at that time if the person will be transported in the truck.
"The whole idea is to reach the person in need more quickly," he said.
No sirens: Hughes said there will be no lights or loud sirens placed on the bikes to alert individuals of their presence. The paramedics may use a light horn or a simple "excuse me" when working through large crowds.
According to Hughes, paramedics, including those in the trucks, do not use the lights and sirens in crowded places such as the Canfield Fair because the noise might create too much commotion.
There are 30 paramedics on the Rural Metro Bike Team, all bringing their personal bikes to be fitted with the necessary equipment and safety gear.
Hughes said the team will also be used at other area events where it is difficult to get around large crowds of people in an emergency such as Youngstown State University tailgating parties, Buhl Day in Hermitage, Pa., and Cityfest and the Peace Race in Youngstown.