Wilmington town board talks bike share program

WILMINGTON — Wilmington town Councilor Laura Dreissigacker Hooker presented a proposal for a bike share station and a new EMS device purchase at the Wilmington Town Council’s meeting Tuesday night.

The town council did not bring the proposals to a vote; the proposals were meant to introduce the subjects to the council and gather public input.

Dreissigacker Hooker proposed the town invest in a complete bike share system from On Bike Share, a Rhode Island-based company that builds custom bike share systems for municipalities, colleges and businesses across the country. The system comes with five custom-branded bikes, docking racks, a rider app and administrative software. It would cost $6,375, which Dreissigacker Hooker suggested could be taken from the town’s occupancy tax revenue, which is meant to go toward tourism enhancements for the town.

“We are a high biking area. I thought that this would be kind of cool for our town. Wilmington is home of at least … three biking events. We have an enormous amount of trails and roadways that encourage biking activities and it’s really fun to ride around town,” Dreissigacker Hooker said. “It would be really nice for tourists and locals alike.”

She suggested the bikes would have the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism’s Whiteface Region branding on their baskets. The bike racks could be located in Heritage Park, at Lake Everest or at the Preston Festival Field. The bikes would be free for riders to use, but riders would need to register with a credit card in the rider app before unlocking the bike in case they damage the bike during their ride. The app also requires riders to sign a waiver.

Councilor Darin Forbes was concerned about the ways riders could circumvent the app’s accountability system.

“I think we’ve all seen it or experienced it or at least heard about it, where all of a sudden (the rider has) filed a dispute with their credit card company and said, “Hey, I rented the bike and it must’ve already been damaged when I got it,’” he said. “So, we’re almost going to have to have somebody there inspecting the bikes after every single rental to make sure there’s no damage before the next person goes out.”

Saranac Lake has a similar system, DACK Bikes, which was introduced in 2021.

Dreissigacker Hooker also proposed that the town purchase an automated chest compression device for the town’s Emergency Medical Services. She identified the Lucas 3 Version 3.1 as the model ideal for Wilmington EMS. The device would cost $20,000.

Charlie Terry, commissioner of the Wilmington Volunteer Fire Department and an EMT, said that EMS has not already purchased a chest compression device because the budget has not allowed it.

“The reason we don’t have them is because we would need two, because we need two ambulances,” he said. “The cost is not, for as much as we would use it, it’s not worth it.”

Dreissigacker Hooker, a registered nurse of 22 years, said that other avenues of funding may be available, such as through the Essex County EMS subcommittee, grants or fundraising.

“If we get a grant for it, it’d be great,” Terry said. “But because of the cost of it, for everything we do have to buy, it isn’t a priority.”

Dreissigacker Hooker said, with the closure of the Lake Placid emergency room this past August, an automated chest compression device is now more necessary than ever.

“In the event of a cardiac arrest, high-quality CPR is the most important step in the chain of survival,” she said. “Manual chest compressions performed by a human are very hard to maintain efficiency, effectiveness, and over time the person doing them can be very exhausted. It’s physically taxing on our EMS. It’s physically taxing for anybody in a hospital room, let alone being on a rig being jostled all over the place.”

EMTs who are administering chest compressions must switch out every two minutes due to the physically taxing nature of CPR. On a drive from Wilmington to Saranac Lake, this would mean two EMTs would need to switch around 20 times to maintain high-quality CPR.

“The Lucas device extends the reach of the care, so essentially, it’s a hands-free device,” Dreissigacker Hooker said. “You can have your hands free from doing compressions, you can be putting IVs in, intubating, doing the monitor, getting medication, talking on the radio, you can do whatever you need to do rather than doing compressions.”

The device is in a backpack, not stationary like some other medical devices, so it could be transferred between Wilmington’s two ambulances if necessary.

“If this saves one life … I think it would be an enormous return on investment,” Dreissigacker Hooker said.


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