Bike Medic Team Coordinator: Lt. Stan Bednarek
As with many aspects of public safety, the Palatine Fire Department is constantly looking for new ways to better serve the public. In 2000, Firefighter / Paramedic Don Steffens (Ret.) developed an idea that came to fruition. That idea was the creation of a team of paramedics on bicycles to patrol large events where the amount of people or terrain is prohibitive to accessing potential medical patients by traditional methods. The first two bikes purchased were paid for by a $5000.00 donation from the Palatine Jaycees. The team was initially designed for two major events in Palatine: the Fourth of July fireworks and parade and the annual Street Fest. It has expanded now to cover at least seven events annually with the ability to cover additional events upon request and approval by the Fire Chief.
Members of the Palatine Fire Department that are members of the Bike Team have gone through rigorous training to provide this service. These men are required to be paramedics as are all firefighters in Palatine. However, they are additionally required to attend and pass a 40-hour Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Cyclist Course that is sponsored by the IPMBA (International Police Mountain Bike Association). This course trains our members on proper riding safety in rough terrain as well as in heavy crowds. This helps protect the public from inadvertent accidents while responding to calls for assistance.
Bicycles ridden by the bike team members are outfitted with advanced life support (ALS) equipment much like what is carried in an ambulance. Trek mountain bikes provide the framework to which panniers or side bags are affixed to the sides over the rear wheel. Members always patrol events in pairs so that the crew has all of the equipment needed. One of the Bike Team riders will have a Zoll automated external defibrillator (or AED) in case of cardiac arrest. Additionally, the team will have a full airway kit, ALS medications and trauma supplies. One pair of paramedics should have sufficient equipment available to treat a patient for a variety of illnesses or injuries until an ambulance can reach the scene through the crowd.
Currently, the Palatine Fire Department Bike Team staffs the following events annually:
Twin Lakes Triathlon – usually held in late June
Jaycees - Fourth of July carnival, parade and fireworks
Streetfest –held for three days in late August
Palatine Cross Country Invite – held in late September
Forest Grove Athletic 5K
Palatine Park District Turkey Trot – held in November following Thanksgiving
For information on the Bike Team or to request potential staffing of a large event not currently covered, please contact the Palatine Fire Department at (847) 202-6340 for more information.