Sussex County Paramedics Pedal to the Rescue - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Michael Lopardi

Sussex County Paramedics Pedal to the Rescue

Updated:
Bike EMS crews work in pairs and carry most of the essential medical equipment found on a regular street unit. (Photo: WBOC Bike EMS crews work in pairs and carry most of the essential medical equipment found on a regular street unit. (Photo: WBOC
MILLSBORO, Del.- Sussex County paramedics knew they had little time to waste. A 62-year-old firefighter was in cardiac arrest outside a fire near Dewey Beach. Firefighters had started CPR but they needed help. The medical crews were dispatched to the scene.
 
One problem: holiday beach traffic. It was just after 11 p.m. on the 4th of July. Anticipated record crowds were departing the fireworks display in Rehoboth Beach and Route 1 looked more like a parking lot than a highway.
 
Sussex County Emergency Medical Services paramedics Wayne Jester and Jordan Dattoli said they made it from Rehoboth to Dewey in about three minutes - even beating the ambulance to the scene. While the ambulance struggled through traffic, the two paramedics on bikes maneuvered their way through the congestion in a move many say likely saved a life.
 
"Typically the beach traffic during these events it's really unbearable," Dattoli said. "You can't really get anywhere."
 
Bike paramedics are not new to Sussex County. Sussex EMS said it started using the bikes in the mid-1990s at events with heavy traffic. The crews will also work big events like Apple Scrapple and Punkin Chunkin.
 
"We start treatment basically and do everything a full ALS unit can do for the first ten minutes," said Jester.
 
Bike medics go through special training and frequently refresh their skills, Jester said. The bike can make a physically demanding job even tougher.
 
"The biggest reason - you're out in the sun all day, out in the heat," Jester said.
 
The bike crews work in pairs and carry most of the essential medical equipment found on a regular street unit, Dattoli said. Each member carries half of the necessary equipment. Together, the units respond to a wide variety of calls often with a faster response time than an ambulance battling beach traffic.
 
The injured firefighter was a member of the Seaford Fire Department assisting in Eastern Sussex for the holiday weekend, Jester said. The 62-year-old active firefighter was still in the intensive care unit at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes as of Wednesday, Seaford Fire Department spokesman Ron Marvel said.
 
Both paramedics said the bikes kept the response moving at a time when every second counts.
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