Sep 25, 2023

Electric motorcycle saves lives as one of Park City Fire's sustainable rescue tools

Large increases in trail use over the last 10 years have pushed the fire district to find ways to reach remote areas faster.

Park City Fire District Chief Bob Zanetti said responding to a patient who’s in the backcountry can be complicated and the district has learned by trial and error what does and doesn’t work.

“Ten years ago, we were trying bicycles to go up there and get them and it just doesn't work,” he said. “You have the crews leaving the station on a bicycle with duty boots on and trying to climb up the hill, it's just not going to work. So, we moved into kind of more of a UTV system with a stokes litter and we could put some gear on it, but then that was even limited, on the single track, not double tracks.”

Zanetti emphasized the immense challenges the backcountry brings.

“Anytime we don't have a road or an address to follow, it's definitely a new challenge,” he said. “But we've seen technology change and dispatch can get us latitude and longitude coordinates. And we can get in the general area of where the accident is. Get up there fairly efficiently.”

After bicycles, the fire district started using motorcycles and had a lot of success. However, Zanetti said gas powered motorcycles were heavy and loud, and the district wanted to decrease its carbon footprint.

“So last year, we actually were able to purchase two electric motorcycles and really, really excited about those, and they're super light, super maneuverable, and we’ve been able to get back on the trails.”

Back on June 13, Zanetti said a trauma call came in for a mountain biker near Glenwild and one of the electric motorcycles responded.

“He was able to get there and there was a bystander performing CPR at the time,” he said. “And he was able to get the AED off the motorcycle and deliver a couple shots right there. I mean, just really something that you just don't see in the backcountry and the patient was alive. And we were able to load them in the helicopter and get them off there and you know, give him his best chance for survival.”

The motorcycles are fully electric FX E-Bikes housed at stations 38 and 36. According to the fire district’s spokesperson Michelle Andersen, they charge in 4.5 hours and max out around 70 mph.

The fire district said these bikes are part of its broader sustainability efforts along with upgrading infrastructure and introducing alternative energy sources like solar panels at fire stations.