To: The communities of the White Mountains and, the public safety partners who responded to the tragic events of June 19th, 2021,
On the morning of June 19th, 2021, cyclist from near and far started the Bike the Bluffs event in Show Low. After leaving the starting line and turning down the Deuce of Clubs a driver crossed lanes of traffic and hit multiple riders at approximately 7:25 am. The driver then fled the scene and was eventually shot by police before being apprehended. At 7:27 Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District (Timber Mesa) personnel were notified of the incident by the Show Low Police Department dispatch center. Timber Mesa firefighters arrived on scene approximately four minutes later, at 7:31 to render aid.
This scene was chaotic with multiple injured cyclist, bystanders attempting to assist, traffic congestion, etc. That was in addition to the somewhat more ordinary challenges of emergency response including communications, incident command, coordination of resources. The incident was declared a mass-casualty event by the incident commander (Timber Mesa Battalion 11) and early arriving units were assigned to triage the wounded and begin providing treatment. Show Low Police officers on the scene and TMFMD command officers, worked closely to coordinate the efforts and request needed resources.
The first patient transported from the scene was treated by Timber Mesa paramedics who then transferred care to a Guardian Air medical helicopter that had just landed nearby. The next five patients were transported by Timber Mesa ambulances to Summit Regional Medical Center. The final patient was transported by a Taylor-Snowflake Fire Department ambulance. While all of this was happening, an additional Timber Mesa ambulance transported the driver who had been apprehended by Show Low Police officers. All critical patients were transported to the hospital within 40 minutes of the incident.
Timber Mesa chief officers were assigned to work with other partners including Summit Hospital to receive patients, Show Low Police Department dispatch center to manage deployment of resources throughout the day, Show Low Police Department public information officials to ensure timely and accurate information to the public, etc. Throughout the day there were numerous other medical calls for service, a significant wildfire event near Forestdale, and a city-wide power outage as a result of a canopy that was blown into the powerlines near the city park.
The immediate and effective response that day was made possible by strong relationships between emergency responder agencies, the dispatch center, the hospital and elected officials. The planning and preparation to facilitate emergency response to an incident of this type is significant. The training for everyone involved beginning with the dispatchers, the responding officers and firefighters, the command officers, the hospital staff and helicopter crews Is extraordinary. An incident like this puts every piece of the emergency response system to the test.
I would like to personally take this opportunity to thank each and every person who responded that day; the elected and appointed officials that authorize our planning and expenditures, the citizens who trust us with their hard earned tax dollars, the responders who train so diligently for just this type of event, the dispatchers who are the first in a series of emergency services personnel to deliver quality emergency services to our community, the firefighters and police officers who respond thousands of times per year yet stay sharp enough to handle something as significant as this, and the helicopter crews and hospital staff who provide outstanding medical care to the injured. An incident like the one that occurred on June 19th really shows the character of a community. Some places might devolve into chaos. Our community pulled together, prayed for one another, and worked hard to serve our fellow man. I could not be prouder of the rapid and skilled response, the treatment of all patients who were afforded the best opportunity to survive and recover, and the cooperative nature of all our community resources. I know that the Bike the Bluff event can, and should, continue to be a proud community event each year.
Finally, I am grateful to the community for your support of our emergency responders. These dedicated public safety personnel work to be prepared for all types of emergencies. Currently we are in the midst of a critical fire season with wildfires burning throughout the West Coast. We are prepared to respond to those incidents while at the same time we remain ready to respond to your medical emergency, your house fire, and any number of other emergency types that occur. None of this would be possible without the support of this community.