Bike Medics Program Sees Early Success In Ocean City

Bike Medics Program Sees Early Success In Ocean City
Ocean City Bike Medics Travis Hearn and Cory Brown are pictured on assignment at Marlin Fest in Ocean City last month. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY – A new bike medics program through the Ocean City Fire Department is expected to improve service for residents and visitors.

In early August, the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) implemented a new bike medics program. Deployed during special events, officials say the program is expected to improve access and response times.

“As these special events grow, our department also has to grow,” OCFD Spokesperson Ryan Whittington said in an interview this week. “Our chief has taken the first step by actually implementing the program, and it’s already been successful.”

Whittington noted that plans for a bike medics program were first introduced during a strategic planning process in recent years.

“Part of that strategic plan was reviewing our service delivery,” he said, “evaluating how we deliver services to our citizens and how to improve those services.”

It was during those discussions, he said, that the department got the idea for a bike medics program. Whittington noted that EMTs were the first ones to identify the need.

“They said we need to have quicker access getting to calls for service during special events,” he said.

Simply put, Whittington said bike medics are assigned to a response area and will respond to service calls during special events. To date, the department has 16 bike medics, and all have been trained by the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA).

“We go through training for EMS cyclists to use mountain bikes that carry 30 pounds of equipment in their bags, and the training they go through is intense,” Whittington said. “They practice low-speed technical skills that help with maneuvering through crowds, topping curbs, and ascending and descending stairs.”

Whittington added bike medics must also complete a roads course, which starts in West Ocean City and ends in the resort.

“We did as many things as we could to make sure their skills were sufficient and ready to deploy …,” he said. “They have to be ready to go.”

The department’s bike medics program was launched in August – at the start of the White Marlin Open – and Whittington said the program has already proved successful.

“During Marlin Fest there was a reported cardiac arrest in the response sector of our bike team …,” he said. “They assisted in performing CPR and the gentleman in cardiac arrest was resuscitated and has since made a full recovery. It shows the opportunity for the bike team to be utilized. By them being in the area, they were able to get there quicker than other units.”

Whittington added that bike medics are finding they have more interactions with the public.

“They are having many more contacts and educating the public just by being on their bikes,” he said.

Whittington said he is eager to see bike medics deployed during future special events. He noted the program could be a valuable tool for special events such as the OC Air Show, when traffic is gridlocked.

“It’s another resource we have in a populated area,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.