Entry 1: So It Begins
With less than a week away from my 11th year riding in the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, my body has become suspiciously wary of acute onset of exercise abuse—specifically my gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus. Despite being embellished with cushy spandex, my hindquarters have no doubt figured out they are in for another agonizing week of reserved parking on a rigid seat no wider than my ischial tuberosity, which by the way, is the same width of the anatomical word spelled out with a font size of 16. What my body doesn’t know is the usual seven-day National EMS Memorial Bike Ride has been extended to 14 days through the joining of the Capital-to-Capital Ride, doubling the miles. Now my bum will really be bummed.
On May 7, 2016, I will join fellow American and Canadian EMS and firefighter colleagues on a long-distance cycling journey as part of the Heroes Are Human Capital-to-Capital bike ride and National EMS Memorial Bike Ride. The event’s mission is to raise awareness of the high rates of mental health issues, substance abuse and suicide among first responders while at the same time recognizing the lives of EMS providers who have died or become seriously injured in the line of duty.
The ride begins in Ottawa, Canada, and will conclude at Washington, D.C., nearly 1,000 pedaled miles later. On May 21, we will arrive in time for the weekend of honor for the National EMS Memorial Service, which will recognize and induct those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving their fellow man.
I know firsthand, as a 33-year veteran paramedic, what it is like to see partners and co-workers suffer PTSD, substance abuse and suicide. We, along with riders and support staff from both Canada and the U.S., take this journey to advocate and lobby for change in how mental health and safety are addressed in our EMS communities.
I hope you will follow me at JEMS.com each day as I document, photograph and track our journey—the people, places, stories and emotions. Our riders and support staff have important stories to tell, even if it takes spandex to get us there. Pedal, pedal, pedal!
Please visit the following sites for further information on the great organizations involved in this great journey:
capitaltocapitalride.com Heroes Are Human – Capital to Capital Bike Ride
www.muddyangels.com National EMS Memorial Bike Ride
www.national-emsBe-memorial National EMS Memorial Service