CFD prepares for beach safety

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Fire Department was at North Avenue Beach on Tuesday preparing for summer safety during the busy beach season.

The city is beefing up its mobile medical response teams. More CFD's bike teams, which are paramedics on two wheels supported by equipment carts stuffed with ambulance-level technology, will be out patrolling the lakefront.

In 2016, the fire department had 481 "patient contacts" that led to 41 trips to the hospital. At least six lives at least were saved.

On a blustery Tuesday along Lake Michigan, CFD paramedics were working against the clock, peddling miles to "rescues" -- as they attempt to qualify for the mobile medical teams.

CFD responds to many kinds of incidents on the beaches so they need these specialized pieces of equipment, such as a sked which allows for them to transport a patient more easily. More of them will be seen through the summer as the bike teams make their presence known

The empowerment of paramedics comes from the fact they're often first on the scene of an emergency.

"They decided to equip them with personal flotation devices, provide a little safety for this rescuer and then give them rescue throwbags, something they could use to effect a rescue so the dive team doesn't have to dive," said Ron Dorneker, deputy district chief of marine operations.

However, when they do, the CFD's underwater microphone system also plays a role in saving lives.

"I just hope that people will use common sense and that common sense will prevail out here," said Vince Zittnan, paramedic-in-charge for CFD. "The beaches are for everybody to have fun and enjoy themselves."

Chicago's beaches open for business on the Memorial Day weekend, which, despite the weather, remains 3.5 weeks away. null
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