Bike medics on hand at National Cherry Festival

NF PHOTOS May 2014 409Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival is underway, attracting thousands of visitors to the Grand Traverse region.

To address medical needs in the large crowds, emergency responders have transitioned from four wheels to two.

North Flight EMS paramedics have been riding bikes for the past 16 years for faster access during emergency situations in large crowds.

Bike medics patrol in pairs on their bikes carrying up to 40 pounds of medical gear. Things like heart monitors, defibrillators and medications.

Rick Osburn is lead paramedic for the bike unit. He said planning took place months in advance.

“We’ve been planning this for about two months now. We were told that the numbers were going to be exceeding a half a million people in town so we actually staffed up both on the ambulance side and we also put both of our bike teams right down in the crowd for the weekend.”

Osburn said the bike teams responded to more than 120 calls this past weekend.

He said that was a high call volume for the ten member team to handle.