SACRAMENTO — A group of cyclists is making its way across Northern California this week to remember Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel who have lost their lives.
With each ring of the bell, a fallen EMS member is remembered. This would be repeated 114 times on the west steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday, representing the number of EMS members who passed away nationwide in 2022-2023.
The ceremony falls in the middle of the annual EMS Memorial Bike Ride.
"To stop here and do this really brings it home for why we are out here," said Amy Segale, one of the riders honoring the fallen.
As part of the West Coast portion, cyclists are riding from Reno, Nevada to San Francisco over the course of six days – a total of 424 miles.
"We each carry tags of our honorees and I have my dog tags on," Segale said. "And if you can remember that's why we are here, it's really inspiring."
Thursday marked the fourth leg of the ride – a 74-mile trek that started in Rancho Cordova and ended in Fairfield. For Segale and her parents, Ron and Lori, this journey is personal.
"Dave Lodarski, he was actually one of the ushers in my wedding back in 1981," said Ron Wolfley, a retired captain with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District. "He lost his life to an intoxicated driver, and we miss him. So I'm riding for him today."
"The sacrifices their families have to go through for that service is massive," said Matthew Burruel, the director of operations for AlphaOne, which provides ambulance services.
For EMS members like Burruel, this memorial hits close to home.
"Honoring the fallen heroes of EMS is something that I think people tend to overlook because we are in acts of service continuously," he said. "We do it because we care and we do it because we enjoy serving."
For those who have performed their final act of service, this small but powerful peloton is keeping their legacy alive one mile at a time.
The EMS Memorial Ride will wrap up on September 30 at Fire Station 51 in San Francisco.
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