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In a moment of inspiration—or was it folly?—I registered to ride in the Pennsylvania EMS Memorial Bike Ride this September. While I’ve tried my best to keep up my activity level these last few months, with gyms and parks closed it’s been challenging.
Mercifully the ride will be in the eastern part of the state this year—thus avoiding the ruthless hills of western Pennsylvania, the site of previous rides, which still give me nightmares. While I’m not an elite-level cyclist, this cause has become important to me, and I am constantly amazed at the dedication of the riders and the support staff to organize this event to remember and celebrate their fallen colleagues. This year's ride is being billed as "Fewer Miles, Less Climbing, Same Great Cause" and I'm hoping that's true.
Sponsored by the Pennsylvania EMS Provider Foundation, the three-day Pennsylvania EMS Memorial Bike Ride memorializes the lives of Pennsylvania EMS workers who have died in the line of duty. Riders are fully supported with snacks, lunch, and support vehicles, and solemn ceremonies are scheduled throughout the ride at welcoming firehouses and EMS services. If previous rides are any indication, food and cheerful company will be in abundance along the way.
This year’s ride is planned for Sept. 12-14, the weekend before EMS World Expo, Sept. 14-18. (If you’re in or near Pennsylvania, sign up to ride to get some physical activity in before settling in for our virtual event!)
The ride will start at the headquarters of our friends at Second Alarmer’s Rescue Squad, which serves a 56-mile coverage area outside of Philadelphia, includes a “Stars of Life Dinner,” and will conclude with a ceremony at the Harrisburg State Capitol building (pending confirmation of availability).
This year’s ride is sure to hold special poignancy in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the EMS providers who have been lost in the wake of the healthcare response. In May, the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, which coincides with the annual National EMS Memorial Service, was postponed until next year due to COVID-19 precautions. “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of life including efforts by our organizations who remain dedicated to honoring EMS personnel for their service, and especially for those who have died in the line of duty,” said Jana Williams, president of the National EMS Memorial Service, while announcing the virtual EMS Memorial Service and Moment of Silence. “While this ruthless virus keeps us physically apart, we can still join together to make sure our fallen and their families receive the acknowledgment they deserve.”
Obviously it’s been a difficult year for gatherings, fundraisers and ceremonies like this important one. I’m looking forward to connecting with my fellow riders and the dedicated support staff who make these rides possible, listening to the stories of why they ride, bumping elbows and generally enjoying their company.
Click here for more details on the ride and how you can get involved.