The San Luis Obispo (SLO) City Fire Dept. introduced its new E-bike Medic Program to quicken response time for hikers in need of immediate medical attention in the open space trails area around the city.  

The E-bike Medic Program allows paramedics to use electric pedal mountain bikes to reach injured recreators at a much faster rate, speeding up those “critical minutes” that could mean life or death for those injured, according to a San Luis Obispo City press release

“It is amazing how much faster our paramedics can reach patients on our city’s trails,” fire engineer and paramedic Ryan Mason said in the press release. “What used to take 45 minutes to an hour to reach an injured hiker or mountain biker can now take us less than ten minutes.” 

The SLO City Fire Dept. partnered with the San Luis Obispo City Firefighters Local IAFF 3523 Benevolent & Emergency Assistance (B.E.A.R) Fund and the parents of the late Matthew Frank to implement the e-bike program. Frank was a former news stringer for the Central Coast who died in a car crash on Highway 101 while he was on his way to cover a breaking news story in 2017. 

The Frank family donated $25,210 to the B.E.A.R Fund to cover the production costs of four e-bikes that were gifted to the SLO City Fire Dept. 

Animal science sophomore and president of Cal Poly’s Hiking and Backpacking club Morgan Lunn said that although hikers should be responsible for preparing themselves with basic first aid while on the trail, “accidents still happen.”

“It is definitely reassuring to know that they’re kind of developing these systems that will allow for faster … and potentially life saving technology,” Lunn said.

Lunn said that the club has hikers and backpackers of all levels, and having the e-bike medic program in place adds another layer of safety for hikers that are less experienced.

Prior to the E-bike medic program, the San Luis Obispo Fire Dept. experimented by using an off-highway vehicle, a UTV-2, in attempts to more quickly assist injured hikers, the press release said. This vehicle, however, wasn’t able to access narrower trails in order to provide the rapid aid that is sometimes needed in accidents. 

Lunn said that “with ATVs, [paramedics] can only get so far.” She said she hasn’t personally been in a situation where immediate medical attention was needed while on the trail, but these new e-bikes make her feel much safer whenever she goes exploring in the future and believes they will do the same for other hikers as well.

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