Two bikes, worth about $1,300 each, were donated to the department by Lake in the Hills American Legion Post 1231, said Matt Berg, president of Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Firefighters Local 3985.
The bikes will be manned by off-duty personnel hired to staff community events, such as the Algonquin Founders’ Days parade or Lake in the Hills Triathlon, Berg said.
“In those mass-gathering settings, timing is key, and using the bikes, especially in a large group of folks, we are going to be able to access our patients a lot quicker,” Berg said.
The bikes are equipped with medical supplies, including a defibrillator, oxygen, IV and bandaging for traumatic injures, Berg said.
The department realized paramedic bikes would be an asset when it borrowed one from Algonquin police to use at the Founders’ Days parade, Berg said. Berg, who rode the bike, said he treated about a dozen patients during the event.
The bikes also allow the public to interact easier with paramedics, and they give residents the ability to have a closer look at who paramedics are and what they do, Berg said.
He said this is the only fire department in the area to implement the program.
Bikes are more common for police, Algonquin police Sgt. James Sowizrol said, and the department has been using them since he started about 14 years ago.
During the day, the bikes are used more for community policing, and in the evening they’re used as more of an enforcement tool, he said.
At crowded events, it’s almost impossible to get around people and other vehicles quickly, which is where the bikes come in handy, Sowizrol said.
“With a bike, one person moves out of your way and you can pretty much get through,” Sowizrol said.
Fire department training for staff who are interested in using the bikes will start in the spring, Berg said. He expects about 12 paramedics will be trained on the bikes.
“We look to provide the highest level of service that we can to the community, and this is kind of the next step in that,” Berg said.