The emergency crash phone rings, and a Public Affairs officer answers. The PA office expects all types of calls about inclement weather, emergencies happening on base and sometimes calls requesting mutual aid support for the surrounding community.
A recent call concerning mutual aid called for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Emergency Medical Service bike team to assist in finding an endangered missing adult with Alzheimer’s disease.
“In 2010, four firefighters wanted to start an EMS bike team here in the fire department,” said Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Lairson. “Those founders were myself, Capt. Timothy Howells, Capt. Clark Deringer and Capt. Adam Megnin.”
The team received its first bikes in 2011 just in time for a debut run at that year’s Freedom’s Call Tattoo.
“Our bike team didn’t rest at all that day,” Lairson said.
During the event, department leadership realized this type of team proved itself invaluable, responding to several calls for medical assistance or finding lost persons with the fastest response times. The now 15-member bike team’s bikes are equipped with advanced medical equipment, lights and sirens. They can ride up to 30 miles at a time.
The bike team has an important mission: rapidly navigate crowds or traverse terrain that prohibits vehicles (stairs, bike trails) to respond to medical emergencies, missing persons or for calls for assistance at events or for mutual aid calls. The team has supported many events on base, including VIP visits, the Air Force Marathon and events at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, such as the World War I Dawn Patrol and the Memphis Belle unveiling.
The team has also supported the surrounding communities under a mutual aid agreement for events, and those communities support Wright-Patterson AFB during Air Force Marathon events.
During the last Air Force Marathon, the bike team played a critical role in saving the life of a runner who collapsed from cardiac arrest. Team members were able to get to the patient quickly, provide relief to bystanders performing CPR and provide an immediate shock to the person with an automatic external defibrillator.
A medical team then arrived, followed by other responders. The patient was saved, returned to a normal life and will soon throw out the first pitch at a Dayton Dragons game that will honor him and the first responders who saved his life.
The most recent response was a mutual aid request for the City of Springfield in Clark County, for a missing endangered adult female.
“Our team, along with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, was assigned to an area for searching. The deputy made first contact with the lost person on their ATVs,” said Lairson. “Then our team went into the wooded area to render medical care while our medical gator was utilized to transport the missing person out to an awaiting ambulance. It was a quick and successful operation.
“When responding to emergencies, the bike team’s key efficiency is they have the ability to maneuver through the crowds, proving invaluable when searching for lost kids, parents and medical emergencies,” Lairson said.
If a call comes in requesting help with a search, the incident commander will help determine where the search will take place, then assign the team a grid. Team members search that grid in detail, ensuring they do not overlook where the missing person could be.
“Looking for the missing person is a small part of their duties because we are a fully equipped with all pertinent life-saving equipment to include an AED if needed,” Lairson said.
“Our two mobile units, a Gator and Tactical Response Unit, can transport patients to the nearest medical tent at a particular event or an ambulance to transport to a hospital and even to a medical helicopter depending on the severity of the patient,” he added.
Their team has only been called out on a few missing people’s cases outside of the base, other than at an event.
This specialized team requires all members to be trained and certified before they can participate. They must take and pass the International Police Mountain Bike Association course.
“This course is a very intense class, and it teaches bike maneuverability on all terrains and around crowds,” Lairson said. “It also teaches how to control your bike in any situation, and once certified, we are required to pass evaluation and training standards to stay certified.
“Working closely with the Five Rivers MetroParks Police bike team, we have gained training and certification as instructors for IPMBA, therefore, allowing us to provide certification and training to our members and Security Forces bike team.
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