BY SHELBY LOFTON
SALT LAKE CITY — In collaboration with the Salt Lake City International Airport, the Salt Lake City Fire Department is rolling out a new team to respond to emergencies.
The airport now has a two-person e-bike squad that responds to medical calls in the terminal six days a week.
“They’ve got all of their basic life support equipment,” said Capt. Shaun Mumedy, public information officer for the department. “They do have some advanced equipment with their AEDs, they have all the standard equipment we would use for trauma care.”
E-bike team meant to help larger crowds
He said the new mobile response team was created to better accommodate larger crowds coming through the growing airport and state. It was modeled after the department’s mobile response times located in some of the city’s neighborhoods.
“We just felt like with the size and the scope of this expansion, there was more that we could do as a fire department,” Mumedy said.
The squad is dedicated to responding to medical calls such as allergic reactions, falls, fainting episodes, respiratory distress or anxiety issues. If an individual needs a stretcher, a golf cart already located in the airport will accompany the firefighters to the call.
“When they get there, if it meets a higher level of care, then we still have fire stations 11 and 12 that can assist with that,” Mumedy said.
Fire Station 12 is located across the tarmac from the airport building. Before the bike squad was introduced, firefighters had to pack up a fire truck and drive it across busy runways filled with taxiing airplanes, then had to get to the person in need on foot.
Mumedy said the bike team will be able to respond to calls faster and be more efficient overall.
“Ideally, this is going to alleviate about 80% of call volume from the fire engine,” he said.
Catching the attention of travelers
Traveler Mary Rogers from Chico, California, said she wishes her home airport had first responders on bikes when her husband suffered an emergency.
“He fell and it was very bad,” she said. “It was really hard to get help, too.”
Mumedy said the department believes the team will speed up response times.
“We understand that there’s some pretty large terminal corridors through here and if you’re having a medical emergency, we need to be able to get you the help you need in a timely manner,” he said.
Salt Lake City’s firefighters are hopeful the bikes are here to stay.
“Hopefully, we can add some more of these mobile response times throughout the terminals,” Mumedy said
They know the airport’s already busy, and said their teams are focused on rendering aid, not impeding traffic.
“We’re not going to be zooming here all crazy-eyed, we understand people are in a hurry and that they’re not necessarily going to be looking out for us,” Mumedy said.
Keep clear of the sirens
They do ask people to move to the right if they see the lights or hear the bike’s sirens.
Many travelers at the airport Tuesday told KSL TV they had never seen this strategy before.
“If they do exist they’re not as visible as we want ours to be,” Mumedy said.
If you need to help with an emergency or serious issue, you can stop these firefighters or call 911.
“They’re easily identifiable in their red shirts and their e-bikes, with their lights and their little sirens, but they’re also encouraged to interact with people,” Mumedy said.
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