East Coast EMS Bike Ride Remembers Fallen First Responders

Photo: Shari Small / WBZ NewsRadio

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A multi-day bike ride to honor Emergency Medical Services personnel kicked off on Saturday in Boston, with the day one leg of the East Coast trek taking bicyclists down 79 miles to Warwick, Rhode Island.

Before venturing off for Virginia and Washington D.C., the names of 114 fallen EMS first responders were read aloud at Boston City Hall. Boston EMS Captain and Ride Organizer Tony O'Brien tells WBZ's Shari Small that the job can take a toll on workers and their families.

Photo: Shari Small / WBZ NewsRadio

"Every year there are EMS fatalities from the mental health crisis with the stresses of the job and people unfortunately taking their own lives— and also, motor vehicle collisions, attacks, assaults, a lot of aviation accidents," O'Brien said.

The ride is a national event with wings in the South, Midwest, Colorado, and West Coast regions in addition to the East Coast. Bicyclists will travel for a week with stops in Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland along the way.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was at the kickoff event, thanking first responders and bicyclists for their service.

"I'm so grateful for you all for what you do on a day-to-day basis and of course for what you are embarking on today," Wu said.

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Paramedic of 42 years and rider Carl French from Maine says the ride is symbolic and more than a trip spanning nearly 500 miles.

"A lot of people come on this ride, coming from some kind of loss, they lost a friend or something and this is a very cathartic experience doing this week-long punishment of just endless riding. A friend of mine who was a flight nurse from New Hampshire, died in a helicopter crash— so that's what started me on this. I rode on this in 2010 and I've been doing most years since then," French said.

Each one of the riders will carry a dog tag with the name of the person they're riding for, and at the end of the ride, bicyclists meet with the families of the fallen to present their respective dog tags.

WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports.

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