LANCASTER — Garrard County Emergency Medical Services now has one of only two bicycle medical units in Kentucky.
Now, not only can five trained paramedics respond to emergencies at festivals or on ATV trails, but also those benefits come with minimal expense to the county. Michael Mullins Jr., who has worked as an emergency medical technician for two years and now serves as the bicycle medical unit team leader, spent much of his spare time soliciting community donations. With about $1,500 of donated funds, Garrard EMS Director Charles R. O'Neal purchased two bicycles, each outfitted with full life-saving equipment, as well as training for the five bike medics. Only about $150, for uniforms, came out of the county’s budget.
Garrard Judge-Executive John Wilson said he was excited about the new unit.
“Michael Mullins is a young man who has shown a lot of initiative to get this project going,” Wilson said. “I’m amazed we now have a unit of this caliber here in Lancaster.”
The bicycle medical team responded to several emergencies at the recent Garrard Rural Heritage Tobacco Festival.
“With all of the foot and vehicle traffic during special events, it can be difficult to get the ambulances through if someone has an illness or an injury,” O’Neal said. “A deployed bike team can get to patients within about 30 seconds and give what could be life-saving medical care.”
In some instances, a traditional ambulance would be necessary but the swift response of a trained bike medic will increase greatly a patient’s recovery chances, said both O’Neal and Wilson.
Mullins and the other four team members, who are Brandon Brown, Leslie Kirby, Gerald Beavers and Daniel Crossfield, underwent rigorous physical training. To qualify as bike medics at the state level, each person had to bike three miles in 18 minutes through significantly hilly terrain.
“Bicycling was recreational for me in the past but now is definitely a key way for me to stay in physical shape,” Brown said.
Mullins, whose father Michael Mullins Sr. retired from both Garrard EMS and Lexington Rural/Metro in 2011, said soliciting donations for a good cause kept him occupied during an emotionally difficult time in his life. His mother, Cindy Lee Potter Mullins, died last month from cancer.
Everyone involved hopes to expand the bicycle medical unit in the future, but any expansion probably will need to be funded through community donations. To make a donation, email Mullins at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Garrard County Emergency Medical Services, 319 Stanford St., Lancaster, Ky. 40440.