By Justin Reutter, The Pueblo Chieftain, March 4, 2022
The Pueblo Fire Department will be getting two electric bikes that will give first responders quick access to emergencies at crowded events or in places that large vehicles have difficulty getting to.
A grant of just over $9,600 from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation will allow the fire department to buy two Recon Power bicycles with lights and siren kits, bags and one cargo trailer, Chief Barbara Huber of the Pueblo Fire Department told The Chieftain.
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which was set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has donated $65 Million in equipment and resources to public safety organizations through a quarterly grant program, according to its website.
Recon bikes were developed by active, reserve and veteran military members and provided initially to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. The company has expanded its market to include the general population.
The bikes that Pueblo Fire Department will receive will “get us out in some of these crowded community events, to be able to be present and have a quick response, moving equipment from wherever we are to the person having a medical emergency,” Huber said.
In some cases, having the bikes will save emergency workers time by removing the need for them to walk considerable distances to reach someone having an emergency, she said. They will also be used to get first responders to emergencies in places like the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk or Arkansas River Trail, which are difficult for large vehicles to access in places.
“You definitely lose a lot of time walking compared to being on a bike,” Huber said. “If they are a mile down the road and you can’t get a vehicle down there, that puts some challenges and time into when that person receives care.”
The bikes would be operated by individuals who have been trained to use them safely, said the chief.
It was unclear if the bikes would be available in time for the Pueblo Bike Classic, a two-day road race event held annually in Pueblo, which this year is set to start on April 23.
“It’s like anything right now, it used to be that if I ordered something today we’d get it pretty quickly. But with COVID, I don’t know what the turnaround time is going to be,” Huber said.
But once they arrive in Pueblo, the bikes will not be used to respond to emergencies like structure fires. Those require a bigger vehicle and a different set of clothes, Huber said.
“Barbie has clothes for every event,” she explained. “So do firefighters. We have special gear for wildland fires, for house fires, for medical calls.”