Contact:    Captain Dave Wheaton, Lee County Public Safety/EMS
                (941) 335-1661



FORT MYERS, Fla. (January 2, 2002) – The newly created bicycle team from Lee County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on patrol New Year’s Eve had success in its first foray into large crowds – administering treatment to four people who were later transported to local hospitals.

The team patrolled its first event at the New Year’s Eve block party in downtown Fort Myers Monday night.

"We received four calls, everything from alcohol-related injuries to a fainting incident with facial injuries that required medical treatment," said Lee EMS Capt. Dave Wheaton. "All were situations where it would have been difficult to get into the crowd with an ambulance or motorized cart.

"To say it all worked beyond my expectations would almost be an understatement," Wheaton said.

Two paramedics on bicycles were at the event. The team plans to patrol at other large events throughout the year – the next being the Edison Festival of Light Parade.

"It was also good to get out of the ambulance and mix with the crowd," Wheaton said. "Lee County EMS will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in February and we want residents to know that we’re committed to providing the best care and always looking for ways to improve service."

The Lee County EMS Paramedic Bicycle Response Team has nine paramedics, including two supervisors. Lee County EMS has purchased four Trek 4300 mountain bikes and related equipment with a $9,375 grant from the Florida Department of Health and a $3,125 match from the county (for a total of $12,500). The state grant comes from the EMS Trust Fund, which collects revenues from traffic fines.

The bikes have Nightrider lighting systems, and racks with panniers (saddlebags) to carry equipment. The bikes also carry either Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) or oxygen systems, and are equipped with assorted Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) supplies and equipment.

Lee County EMS provides out-of-hospital advanced life support response and care to more than 54,000 citizens and visitors each year and also operates an air ambulance helicopter. Its annual budget is $21.4 million and it employs more than 200 people.