Firefighters training on scooters to help during big events

SAN DIEGO -- Firefighters zipped around the San Diego Fire-Rescue training facility on electric scooters Monday.

It looked like fun, but it’s training that could help save lives.

“Response times and getting to that patient is the most important," said San Diego Fire-Rescue Capt. Cory Beckwith.

The department is training all firefighter-paramedics how to operate the scooters, known as a Zuumcraft. They will be used by the department’s Mobile Operations Detail or MOD team.

The scooters will let paramedics quickly work their way through crowds to help in an emergency during big events like Comic-Con, December Nights and parades.

“Special events -- we saw there was a need. Crowded events where people had emergencies, medically-related, that we just didn’t have the ability to get an ambulance or engine company with the equipment necessary to render aid quickly," Beckwith explained.

For the last four years, 40 to 60 firefighters have been with the department's MOD team working special events.

“We also use these every Friday and Saturday in the Gaslamp. By using the MOD team to handle calls, we don’t need to send an engine or ambulance. We keep our larger resources available for the vehicle rescues, structure fires, cliff rescues or HAZMAT calls," said Beckwith.

The scooters are locally made and hit a top speed of just under 25 mph. They are described as “rolling emergency rooms,” equipped with medications and supplies.

Some of the paramedics who are training never thought they’d be riding around on a scooter.

“Yes, I was a little unsure why. It was explained pretty well to us what they’re going to be used for: get to patients a little easier. This has been fun – a lot more fun than I expected," said firefighter Sean Arnesen.

By the end of training, nearly 400 firefighters will be certified to use the scooters.