(by Gabby Robinson) This bike hero has been a long time coming. BikeDenver proudly presents its Bike Hero Award to Nick Rhinehart—a member and representative of the Denver Health bike medic crew. Nick and his cohorts aren’t just bike heroes of the month though, they are heroes in the most literal sense!
Bike medic training begins with the desire to help others and completion of paramedic certification. Nick’s training as a paramedic helped prepare him to be a bike medic. “The change of pace, being outdoors, and overtime” are all aspects Nick considered when he chose to add the bike medic role to his work week.
To transition from paramedic to bike medic, Nick attended a three day certification class held by the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA), where he learned skills that separate him from your average medic. Any paramedic can receive certification by completing the IPMBA class; for Nick, the most important skill he learned was “crowd maneuvering.” Those skills come in handy when Nick’s work environment involves the likes of Jazz in the Park, People’s Fair, Viva Streets, Colfax Marathon, Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies games! Nick says the key function of a bike medic is: “To navigate crowds to get to patients as soon as possible quicker than an ambulance.”
What exactly does a day in the life of a bike medic look like? For Nick it involves spending nights in an ambulance fulfilling paramedic duties, sleeping through the day, and THEN rise and shine for bike medic duty at a Colorado Rockies game! Once at Coors Field, Nick hangs out for batting practice and the game, keeping a watchful eye out for people injured by stray balls or other mishaps. Sometimes more extreme situations arise, such as the time when a Rockies fan fell off the Rockpile. Of course, Nick must call an ambulance in cases like this, but he takes pride in being able to offer emergency care right away because he is on a bicycle! Plus, while his medic bicycle itself may not haul a stretcher, it does carry all first-line equipment necessary for providing pre-hospital care—those panniers and bags attached to medic bikes aren’t just for show, they carry 50+ pounds worth of equipment!
One last thing to note about Nick and the rest of the Denver Health bike medic crew is that that they ARE Denver Health professionals. Nick reminds us that even though bike medics look casual and like to have fun on the job, their work is serious business. They may even call on you to help them in an emergency. Since they often patrol solo, bike medics will delegate tasks to bystanders!
We think the entire Denver Health bike medic team deserves BikeDenver Bike Hero recognition. They use bicycles to accomplish one of the most heroic professions out there. But, let’s not forget that we are talking about Nick here who, when we last spoke, had just completed his night shift at 6:30 AM and joined us for a cup of Joe at Pablo’s Coffee. As he left Pablo’s, Nick described the rest of his day: pull the curtains in his room, sleep, wake up, shift to bike medic mode and work a political campaign event that night. Then, in true Bike Hero fashion, he mounted his two-wheeled ambulance and rode home.
Bike Hero of the Month Awards highlight different people each month, and help encourage other people to bike by telling the Hero’s personal story. The goal of the Bike Hero Awards Program is to showcase the diversity of citizen-cyclists and the people who support them in Denver.
BikeDenver’s Executive Director Piep van Heuven says: “We introduced the Bike Hero awards because we want to encourage a friendly environment for and public image of bicyclists in Denver. One of the ways we can do this is to showcase the different faces of and great stories about people in our community, like Chris, who ride bikes or help others get out there and ride. Through the Bike Hero awards, BikeDenver honors bicyclists of all ages and walks of life, from the first time bicyclist to the rain or shine bicyclist! We all know people (our neighbors, co-workers, family members or community leaders) who inspire us to reach for the handlebars instead of the car keys. Take a moment to look around you and help BikeDenver recognize the people in our community who are making a difference for Denver, one ride at a time!”
To nominate a Bike Hero, please send a photo and a brief description of why you think they should be recognized (100 words or less) to info(at)bikedenver.org.
We started naming Bike Heroes in 2010. Meet past honorees here:
Bicycle Village has been a Colorado owned and operated business for more than 30 years. From modest beginnings in an 1800 square ft. building in West Denver, Bicycle Village has grown into the largest bicycle retailer in the Rockies. www.bicyclevillage.com
BikeDenver is Denver’s bicycle advocacy organization. BikeDenver promotes and encourages bicycling in and around Denver and works to make Denver a better place to ride your bike for fun, recreation and transportation. Why? Because it’s healthy for you, and healthy for Denver. www.bikedenver.org