Life Can Change in a Heartbeat

August 18, 2018, was a beautiful day in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. The third annual Minocqua Dragon Boat Festival was in full swing, the sun shone andthe water sparkled as the dragon boats raced across the lake. Crowds of spectators lined the shore and strolled the streets.

Jennifer Gitzlaff and Michael Kellner, paramedics with Oneida County EMS and Ascension, were on duty at the festival grounds when a call came over their radio. There was a three-car accident. They radioed back that they were on their way.

The pair jumped on their specially outfitted EMS bicycles and were at the accident scene in under two minutes, well ahead of the ambulance that had to navigate roads crowded with cars and pedestrians. Once there they began identifying the injured, catalogingand treating injuries. They relayed information to the incoming ambulances so they’d know what to expect on arrival.

“It went so smoothly,” commented Jennifer, bike team manager. “It was the first time we used the bikes on a call and it worked out reallywell.”

The bikes each carry about 13.7 pounds of advanced life support equipment. This gear includes a defibrillator, IVs, medications, trauma dressings, bandages and more. They essentially carry everything that is on the ambulance, except for a cardiac monitor. The bikes are usedin pairs at special events. At least one person per pair must be a paramedic. Right now, all bike team members happen to be paramedics.

The Howard Young Foundation funded the start-up costs for four EMS bikes andOneida EMS funds the ongoing program.

“I can’t say enough good things about the Howard Young Foundation,” Jennifer said. “If you needsomething in the community related to EMS or healthcare, they’re interested. And they make the application process pretty easy.”

One unexpected benefit to having the EMS bikes, in addition to rapid response even through congested roads, is that the paramedics get to interact more with the public in non-emergency situations.

“When we’re staffing special events, we are always walking around with our bikes andpeople come up to chat,” recounted Jennifer. “Usually when people meet paramedics it’s not a great time in their life. Thisgives them an opportunity to talk with us without being in an emergency situation.”

The EMS bikes are used throughout the summer to staff special events in the community, including the Dragon Boat Festival and the 4thof July celebration.

Please join the Howard Young Foundation in supporting exceptional healthcare in our community. Go to www.howardyoungfoundation.orgto learn more.

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