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CrazyMotorcycleGuy's Avatar
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Join Date: September 29, 2002
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August 29, 2005, 04:58 PM


August 26, 2005
Help comes on a dirt bike in the woods

By Rick Steelhammer
Staff writer

SLATYFORK — If you suffer chest pains at the summit of Bald Knob on the Cass Scenic Railroad, get lost in the backcountry of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, or fall from a tree stand in the Monongahela National Forest, the growl of an approaching dirt bike means help is on the way.

Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue’s Dirt Bike Response Team is one of only two Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified rescue squads in the nation that respond to emergencies aboard off-road motorcycles. Members of the Shavers Fork dirt bike team are certified firefighters and trained as either EMTs or first responders.

The other dirt bike team, located in Southern California and made up of law enforcement personnel, deals mainly with search-and-rescue calls.

“We’re really the only team in the country that incorporates firefighting and EMS capabilities with dirt bike response capabilities,” said Jason Hall, the team’s leader and co-founder.

“We cover 22,000 acres of land — most of it wilderness — in a 17-mile radius from the station,” said Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue Chief Shannon Boehmer, a member of the dirt bike team. “When people get lost or hurt our here, they’re often in places you can’t get to with ambulances or even with four-wheelers. We can get to them a thousand times faster on a dirt bike than we can on foot.”

In addition to responding to backcountry medical emergencies, response team members scout wildfires and train area residents in how to safely ride dirt bikes and street bikes.

The Dirt Bike Response Team, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Hall and former Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue squad member Brad Short, who died in a motorcycle accident while riding to work in July 2003.

“Everything we’re doing with the Dirt Bike Response Team is being done in memory of Brad and his efforts to make the team a reality,” said Hall.

The Shavers Fork Dirt Bike Response Team has six trained members, and is in the process of training several more, all of whom are members of the fire department.

“There’s a lot to learn, but it’s also a lot of fun,” said Andrea Smith, a fire department volunteer who works in Snowshoe Mountain’s public-relations department and is training for a spot on the response team.

Team members buy, insure and maintain their own dirt bikes, and buy their own off-road boots, pads, helmets and chest protectors. They keep their bikes and gear at the fire hall’s new building, near Snowshoe Mountain’s Silver Creek section.

Hall and fellow response team member Frank Primrose, a former professional dirt bike racer, attended training sessions in Texas to become Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified dirt bike trainers, and in Morgantown to become certified street bike trainers.

Primrose has first-hand knowledge of the value of having personnel with emergency medical training on hand in backcountry settings. Last summer, while riding in the Colorado 500 charity dirt bike ride, Primrose had an accident and broke a vertebra. Hall, also taking part in the event, tended to his injury until an EMS team could arrive on the scene 2 1/2 hours later.

“Believe me, having someone on a dirt bike with medical training in a situation like that is a valuable tool,” Primrose said.

Primrose’s Fearless Enterprises motorcycle touring company has donated a trailer for response team use. The Vaughan W. Brown Charitable trust has donated money for EMS packs and first-aid supplies.

In addition to medical gear, response team members, who generally work in pairs, all carry radios, and are equipped with pads, protectors, helmets and water bladders.

“For medical emergencies, the idea is to get to the scene fast and stabilize the victim until a Stokes basket can be carried in so that the patient can be safely carried back to an ambulance,” Boehmer said.

Most squad members’ bikes are street-legal, and able to respond to accidents on public roads as well as backcountry sites.

Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue responds to about 300 fire calls and 250 emergency medical calls annually. During the past year, the department’s Dirt Bike Response Team was summoned for 10 emergency calls, ranging from lost hunters and mountain bikers to a tourist with a medical problem aboard the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Adjacent Snowshoe Mountain has about 2,500 year-round residents, and as many as 10,000 people can be found at the resort during holiday ski weekends and special events.

Hall said he would like to see dirt bike response become a recognized EMS specialty eventually.

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August 29, 2005, 05:39 PM

that is totally awesome
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August 29, 2005, 07:46 PM

Its about time. Sheesh...I have been thinking about this for a long time...and it is just now taking a foot hold. Glad to see it starting to spread to other departments.

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August 29, 2005, 07:48 PM

Another great post by SV. Sorry I dint make it up last weeekend the tire aranged foe sat got moved to sun

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August 30, 2005, 07:33 AM

very cool

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August 30, 2005, 10:26 AM


God Speed Jeff! You'll never be forgotten.

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Join Date: August 30, 2005
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August 30, 2005, 01:03 PM

FCPD has dirt bikes they use for this sort of thing. I imagine other, more rural, departments do too. They probably just aren't dedicated units and only bust out the dirt bikes when needed.
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September 2, 2005, 05:55 AM

NICE!!! They should take Motards and incorporate them into the local fire departments as well for immediate response - those things move a hell of a lot more easily through heavy traffic than an ambulance.

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