Bikes help NY firefighters respond quickly in crowds

The 24-speed bikes are lightweight, heavy duty and come with lights, sirens and other emergency equipment

By Sandra Tan
The Buffalo News

EGGERTSVILLE, N.Y. — Think of them as rescue trucks on two wheels.

The Eggertsville Hose Company has purchased two all-terrain bikes and loaded them down with rescue gear that should enable volunteer firefighters to get to injury victims more quickly in large-crowd situations.

The 24-speed silver bikes won't hurt the firefighters' community relations and recruitment efforts, either, since they give volunteer firefighters more opportunities to interact with the public at events.

"The ability for us to talk about what we do is most of our advertisement," said Fire Chief John Buttino.

The bikes made an appearance Friday evening at Windermere School''s annual Bike Safety Rodeo and will make future appearances at road races, festivals, block club parties, retail areas and other community events.

Each bike is specially designed for police/emergency medical services use, meaning that they're lightweight, heavy duty and come with lights and sirens, Buttino said. The fire company just recently got the bikes and has 26 firefighters trained to use them.

Each one is loaded down with a defibrillator, oxygen and other first-aid items, such as ice packs and bandages. The equipment is carried in storage compartments and large canvas packs near the rear wheels. That additional weight makes bike riding a different experience for trained team members.

"You're carrying a lot of weight along with you," Buttino said.

The bikes, with equipment and accessories, cost about $2,000 each. Buttino said that unlike other far more expensive firefighting equipment, the rescue bikes offer a big bang for the buck when it comes to community presence.

The Eggertsville Hose Company is not the first to have such bikes. Other volunteer fire companies and police departments have been making use of them for years.

But Buttino said the bikes represent a positive step forward for the well-known fire company and for the Eggertsville community in southwest Amherst.

While the bikes won't replace a rescue truck or ambulance, they will enable firefighters to respond to medical emergencies quickly in crowded situations, providing initial life support until more help arrives.

Buttino added that he was excited to pick up the red bike shirts for his bike team.

"I''m kind of looking forward to doing some events myself," he said. "From the feedback I''ve gotten, it''s been all positive."

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