Ed Moreland, NRP, FACPE, is an active paramedic based in Philadelphia who wears many hats.
In the past, he has held positions with the Pennsylvania EMS Provider Foundation and National EMS Memorial Bike Ride. He continues to volunteer with these organizations.
Moreland organizes and participates in several memorial bike rides throughout the year to remember fallen EMS providers. He does so because it’s a profession that sometimes gets forgotten in the wake of tragedy.
“EMS folks are not always remembered in the same way as law enforcement and firefighters … so this is a way for us to ensure their memories are not forgotten and let their families know that they are still remembered,” Moreland said.
Besides taking time out to honor fallen EMS providers, organized bike rides also promote a healthy lifestyle for first responders.
That’s a big deal, said Moreland. EMS folks don’t always put their own health needs first, and they instead prioritize those around them.
The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride offers five rides per year throughout the United States to honor fallen first responders, he said.
“These long-distance bike events honor EMS workers who died in the line of duty and not in the line of duty,” Moreland said.
National EMS Memorial bike ride routes remember fallen first responders
Historically, riders follow these five routes taken each year, with the exception that the southern route sometimes changes, Moreland said.
- East Coast — May ride from Boston to Washington, D.C.
- Southern Region — May ride from Raleigh, NC, to Washington, D.C.
- Midwest — June ride from Minneapolis to Chicago.
- Rocky Mountain Region — July ride in Colorado from Snowmass to Littleton in coordination with Air Ambulance Memorial.
- West Coast — September ride from Reno, Nev., to San Francisco, and includes riding around Lake Tahoe.
In a unique twist, each cyclist wears a set of two dog tags with the names of fallen first responders. Moreland recently honored a volunteer EMT who died of cardiac arrest.
After the ride, cyclists may even meet the family of the fallen and honor them with one of the tags. Indeed, Moreland himself rides with a cluster of dog tags accumulated over the years.
“I met with her family, riding in memory of their mom,” he said of the cardiac arrest victim. “It’s traumatic for a lot of the family members.”
Local memorial rides for fallen first responders
If you can’t make it to a national ride, consider a local one.
On Sept. 7, the Pennsylvania EMS Foundation will host its Fourth Annual PA EMS Memorial Bike Ride from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The ride spans 160 miles, from East Stroudsburg to Harrisburg.
“The past three Pennsylvania memorial rides started at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, the scene of the plane crash that was intended to crash in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Moreland helps with organizational efforts and rides in the event. He said the ride is usually timed to coincide with the anniversary of the World Trade Center 9/11 attacks that took the lives of 343 firefighters.
The event also pays tribute to the countless others who either died or developed health conditions resulting from toxic chemical exposure from working at Ground Zero during the clean-up and recovery efforts.
“The organization was founded to recognize and honor 9/11 deaths and honor PA EMS who died in the line of duty,” he said.
The event also helps raise money for scholarship funding to send people to paramedic school, he added.
In total, Moreland said the foundation has awarded more than $40,000 in scholarships over the past seven years.
Memorial rides remain important, said Moreland, because the events remind people not to forget events such as 9/11.
Memorial rides also offer a constant reminder outside the events of 9/11.
“To remember the continuous sacrifice of EMS providers, including the physical and mental toll it takes on them over decades,” Moreland said.
Let’s not forget Flight 93
After terrorists crashed commercial airliners into the Twin Towers in New York, and then into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., 40 passengers on United Flight 93 stopped the third attack planned for the nation’s capital.
Those passengers gave their lives on that memorable day, forcing the plane to crash in an open field in Somerset County, Pa.
If you’d like to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial,the park offers tours and camping onsite.
40 Memorial Groves dot the grounds, offering visitors a place to pay their respects to those who gave their lives.