- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

WINONA, Minn. (AP) - Some rescue workers in the Winona area are ditching their ambulances for bicycles, saying they can respond faster on two wheels in conditions too crowded for bulky ambulances.

The Winona Area Ambulance Service launched a new bike team in May, and has already provided service at six or seven community events, the Winona Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/1lFlzNA ) Friday.

The team is dispatched at festivals, runs, parades and other events where it might take longer for bulky ambulances to respond.

“It’s another way for us to respond quicker,” said Kyle Rogers, a paramedic who helps coordinate the bike team.

Another advantage of traveling by bike is that his team can connect more closely with community members. It’s comforting for people to know how close help is in case something goes wrong, he said.

The team has three bicycles, each equipped with saddle bags containing most of the gear an ambulance carries - a defibrillator, emergency medications, oxygen supplies and cold packs.

If the riders need backup they also have direct contact with hospitals and emergency dispatch, Rogers said.

About a dozen paramedics and emergency medical technicians have signed up for the team. Their training includes running through possible emergency scenarios and completing a 10-mile bike ride.

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Information from: Winona Daily News, https://www.winonadailynews.com

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