LEWISTON, Maine -- Paramedic Allan Parsons, who was killed on the job in Turner, Maine, last July, will be remembered by local EMS personnel as they participate in a national bike ride in May.
The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride is a six-day, 600-mile trek from New York City to Roanoke, Va., from May 17 to 23, NorthStar EMS team leader Carl Blondell said. The event recognizes emergency medical workers who have died.
The NorthStar bike team was formed for quicker response time to medical needs in crowded areas where it's hard to get an ambulance through, he said. The team helps at area functions such as Farmington Fair, Wilton's Blueberry Festival, Rangeley's July 4th celebration and more. It also provides bike safety education to area schools, holds bike rodeos and fits and sells bike helmets.
Four members of the team participated in the national memorial ride last year. This year, Blondell said, "It's a little closer to us" because of Parsons death.
Parsons lived in Wilton and worked for Med-Care Ambulance in Mexico. Last July, he was caring for a patient traveling in an ambulance when it and a pickup truck collided on Route 4 in Turner. Parsons died of injuries suffered in the crash.
Wilton police officer Blaine Rackliff of East Dixfield, another bike team member, was on duty last July when a dispatcher advised him to notify Parsons family of the accident.
"It's the hardest thing an officer has to do," he said. "Then it hits you . . . this guy was serving the same way we do."
"We would also like people to realize that EMS is out there 24/7, Blondell said, "putting their lives on the line. It's a phenomenal commitment."
Members of Parsons family hope to go to the memorial service in Roanoke on the last day, his mother, Sally Parsons of Wilton, said Friday.
"It's not easy to talk about," she said. "It's nice that they honor him ... he was quite a guy."
One Texas team last year spent the ride talking about their fallen friend, and by the time they reached Virginia, Rackliff felt he knew him through their stories, he said.
Rackliff hopes to let everyone know about Parsons during the this year's ride.
Blondell, who is secretary of the national bike ride, Rackliff, Ben Guild of Industry and Ross Koehn of Wilton will make the trip for the NorthStar EMS team. In all, there will be seven riders from Maine.
Last year, they started in New York City, rode down 5th Avenue and stopped at the site of the World Trade Center collapse before continuing on through Philadelphia.
This year, the ride will stop in Washington, D.C., for an opportunity to bring attention to emergency medical services and the deaths of those workers, Blondell said.
The team needs to raise about $4,400 to help with their expenses on the trip.For more information, visit www.fchn.org/northstar for a bike team link or to make a donation, Blondell said. Checks may be mailed to NorthStar, 111 Franklin Health Commons, Farmington, ME 04938 and marked for the bike team.