Administration and Leadership, Columns

Fallen EMS Professionals Honored on Placards Along Route of National EMS Memorial Capital-to-Capital Bike Ride

Entry 12: Keeping the Fallen with Us

A century ride in cycling lingo refers to 100 miles traveled in one day via bicycle and, regardless of one’s biking experience, it is considered kind of a big deal. Well, my friends, today we went not only a century, but added a decade to that plus two. One hundred and twelve miles were trekked across Delaware, beginning in Wilmington and finishing the day in Dewey Beach.

I love Delaware, and do you know why? Because it’s flat. So damn flat that crossing over a highway overpass is considered climbing a hill.

More importantly, I appreciate the awesome support the Delaware EMS and FD has provide the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, including Wilmington St. Francis Hospital, which provided us not only a great send-off breakfast but also a ceremonial tribute that made me blush with pride between bites of my cherry Danish.

Biking 112 miles is challenging, regardless of the beautiful landscape that punctuates your peripheral vision with open green farmland and periodic waterways leading to the ocean. Local water fowl adorning the swampy regions looked at us, or at least me, as if we were the loony ones. For you see, I have this habit of mooing at cows when I cycle past them, but I was at a loss for what sound a loon makes as I came upon them, so I just stuck with mooing at them too.

So how does one occupy one’s mind during these long stretches of seven hours or more of cycling? Some riders have musical ear buds to help them along that no doubt inspire or distract them from their, at times, tedious journey. Others pair up and talk along the route, but even that can become monotonous after a while.

Bikers are usually free to set their own pace for these long distance destinations, and at times can find themselves alone on the road, if only for a brief period. I myself love those moments when I travel solo traversing the open countryside. I call it my reflection time and it can transform my thoughts toward what I like to call a “zone of tranquility.” I think of my life and how lucky I am to experience a time and place so far removed from the day-to-day grind—specifically EMS, which can distort the realities of the normal world.

More importantly I reflect on the lives of those we ride for, which become known to us by their images posted on placards and displayed daily at our ceremonial rest stops—90 in all. Their photographs, place of employment, date of their last call and a biographical narrative speak of their sacrifice, giving us a brief insight into their persona that goes beyond just their job description.

I try to pass by these exhibited placards at least once every day during our rest stops to help remind me of why I ride—especially when I begin to complain of the cold, poor road maintenance or weariness of sore muscles. Just as the nutritional snacks and energized drinks provided by our support staff reenergizes or bodies, so does the images of these honorable EMS providers who left us too soon.

Tomorrow we ride again close to a century in miles, but the images of these women and men who gave the ultimate sacrifice stay with me regardless of the miles traveled, and for that I celebrate the journey. So bring it! All I ask for is an occasional Dunkin’ Donuts and an available bathroom located just 10 miles beyond that. 

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