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Thursday, July 03, 2014 - North Flight EMS Bike Medics Ready for Festival Crowds

Four of the members of the North Flight EMS bike medic team are from left, Josh
Salyer, EMT-P;  Jennifer Parker, RN, EMT-P; Aaron Sogge, EMT-P; and Rick Osburn, EMT-P.

North Flight EMS Bike Medics Ready for Festival Crowds
Two-wheeled crews are able to maneuver quickly to medical emergencies

With potentially 500,000 visitors for the kickoff weekend to the National Cherry Festival, fast access to emergent situations becomes crucial for medical first responders.

While the Blue Angels soar in their FA-18 Hornets, North Flight EMS paramedics will put their mountain bikes in motion to meet the medical needs of the crowds below.

For the past 16 years North Flight bike medics have provided advanced life support assistance at festivals, races, and events in the Grand Traverse region.

“We see this as a valuable service that we can provide to the community,” said Rick Osburn, lead paramedic on the 10-member team. “We go out in two-person teams and typically have two teams at a large event.”

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians patrol in pairs and each team member carries between 20 and 40 pounds of medical gear strapped to their bike – including a heart monitor and medications.

“We respond to all sorts of situations, people choking, fireworks accidents, pedestrians hit by cars,” Osburn said.

In addition to the National Cherry Festival, the bike medics support the Bayshore Marathon, Friday Night Live, Tour de TART, parades, and open space concerts.

Medics enjoy mingling with the crowds, being able to answer questions, and fostering goodwill with the tourists who visit the area.

“We really appreciate the fact that North Flight allows us to do this,” Osburn said. “And it has really paid off in past years that we have been able to quickly reach a patient through the crowds.”

For more information on North Flight EMS, go to northflightems.org.