Life-saving care, delivered on two wheels

Duluth Fire Department equips bike EMT program with defibrillators for quicker, more effective responses

This past summer, the Duluth Fire Department’s emergency medical technicians found an innovative way to negotiate crowded city streets.

They used two wheels, not four—saddling up on bicycles for a quicker response time on emergency calls.

“Over the summer, Duluth hosts events with large volumes of people, and we’re challenged with traffic and personnel congestion in certain areas of the city. It can be hard to provide an efficient response to those that request assistance,” explains Scott Kleive, deputy chief of Duluth FD.

“The Duluth Police Department had a lot of success with law enforcement using bikes in the city, so we molded our bike EMT program after their success,” he adds. “We looked to Enbridge for financial support for the purchase of defibrillators to get our bikes equipped.”

The bike EMT program was used during Grandma’s Marathon and the Festival of Sails, two major Duluth summer events. Grandma’s Marathon has been held in the Minnesota city annually since 1977, and now hosts more than 18,000 participants each June.

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Heat stroke, dehydration, falls and other injuries are common during these busy summer events. While the bike EMT team was fortunate to not have to use a defibrillator this year, this is not always the case.

“I have been involved in applying a defibrillator twice at Grandma’s Marathon in the past, with great success. Given the history, we knew it was important to have defibrillators with the bikes to allow us to provide the support needed in a timely response,” says Kleive.

“Last year, we had a bike team and supported medical response, but did not have defibrillators. We’re grateful that we were able to purchase the equipment and have it in place for events this summer,” he adds.

As part of Enbridge’s commitment to improving the quality of life in communities near our operations, our $5,000 Safe Community grant to Duluth FD helped purchase those defibrillators for the EMT bike teams.

The department stays engaged in Duluth year-round, hosting monthly clinics to teach parents how to use car seats safely and visiting schools to educate students on fire safety.

“We're consistently involved in community events, not necessarily with a specific purpose, but just to have a presence and answer questions and concerns that come up with respect to public safety,” Kleive says. “I’m proud to be able to serve my community.”

(TOP PHOTO: From left, Duluth Fire and Rescue Chief Shawn Krizaj, Laura Kircher of Enbridge, Duluth Fire and Rescue EMTs Jacob Gunderson and Max Kotter, and Duluth Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Scott Kleive.)