LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - With any major event safety is always a concern, but with the Mississippi River being so high for Riverfest, the Gundesen Tri-State Ambulance bike response team has to keep an even closer eye on the event this year.
Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance has had a bike response team since 2006, so you may have seen them out and about at big events.
Instead of trying to get an ambulance through a crowd of people, one bike paramedic says this allows them to provide care a lot faster to someone in need.
When you go to Riverfest, you can expect to eat great food, get some fresh squeezed lemonade and of course enjoy live music. But you may also see the Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance Bike Response Team checking in for duty.
"It's a definite change of pace from being in the ambulance," said James Barloon, a paramedic with Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance.
"We go in between crowds and the tents. Just so the public knows we are there, they see us and they know they can alert us if there is a need for us," said Kelsey Esser, the bike response team coordinator with Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance.
For the past eight years the bike team has responded to a variety of incidents.
"Anything from somebody hurrying across the street and they have a young one with them, and they end up tripping and skinning a knee, to alcohol-related incidents," said Barloon.
But no matter what the emergency is, the bike response team is well prepared.
"We carry almost as much as we carry in the ambulance," said Esser. "Any type of call we can handle for the first 10-15 minutes until the ambulance gets here."
However, the job doesn't end there. They also make sure people are being safe; one of the major concerns this year is the river level.
"We are going to have to be vigilant watching the shoreline because the water is so high," said Barloon.
"We will do a couple more rounds than we normally would close to the river just to make sure people are staying safe," said Esser.
So all you have to worry about is getting a good seat to enjoy the fun.
Along with the bike team, Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance will also have an ambulance down at the grounds.
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