The Olathe fire department is now more mobile thanks to an $8,500 grant from Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and Lockton Companies.
The fire department is using the money to form a bicycle unit for use at events with large crowds, such as parades, marathons and festivals.
“If we have a large crowd gathered the bikes will help us get around the event and through the crowd to monitor the event,” said Division Chief David Dock. “They also help make us more visible.”
The department has purchased eight bicycles for the unit. Dock said crews travel in pairs at events and that each team is outfitted with medical equipment geared toward first response.
“They have things like defibrillators and other immediate medical supplies,” Dock said. “The bike unit’s goal is to get patients stabilized until medical personnel arrive.”
The Olathe police department has a bicycle unit and helped to train the fire department. Dock said the officers ran them through obstacle courses and taught them how to balance on the bike while carrying medial equipment and maneuvering through a large crowd. Dock said while the firefighters knew how to ride the bikes, riding between people without injuring a bystander was something they needed to learn.
Dock said the fire department’s bicycle unit made its debut at a recent walk/run event. He said the bikes were especially useful for this type of event because the course was long and the bikes let the fire department keep up with runners while monitoring the crowd and staying out of the way.
The department applied for the grant because it was looking for ways to fund creation of a bike unit. Dock said officials chose the bicycle unit project for the application because they had been looking for a way to mobilize first responders more quickly at events. He said they had seen bicycle units be successful in other communities.
Previously, the fire department had tried using 4-wheelers at large events.
According to a press release, the grant from the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company is intended to “provide needed equipment, training and educational tools to local fire departments and burn prevention organizations.”
The particular grant being given to Olathe is funded by Lockton Companies through the Fireman’s Fund. Lockton is a Kansas City-based insurance and risk management firm.
“We are honored to present the Olathe Fire Department with this donation so they may better serve the community,” Susan Melenson of Lockton Companies said in a press release. “We count on firefighters in life’s most difficult circumstances and it’s wonderful to be able to support the community in such a meaningful way.”