Cyclist treks cross-country for first responders
By MICAH PICKERING
Mar. 31, 2018
DERIDDER, La. (AP) — A cyclist recently stopped by DeRidder, Louisiana, as he made his way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast.
Aodhan O'Ferrell is a former firefighter and paramedic now riding his bicycle in an effort to raise awareness for "move over" laws. These are meant to protect paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement from motorists while they are pulled over doing their duty, maintaining public safety.
O'Ferrell met with firefighters and police officers at DeRidder City Hall where he spoke about why he is traveling this way.
He started his cross-country crusade in Savannah, Georgia and has been making his way to California. He strives each day to log around 60 miles.
Five years ago, O'Ferrell was tending to a patient in the back of an ambulance in-transit when it was rear-ended. He received severe injuries resulting in the need for major surgeries and a lengthy recovery.
His injuries included a broken neck (C3-C5), brain damage, memory loss, loss of cognitive functions, visual damage to the nerve in his right eye, a crushed left shoulder, fractured ribs and trauma to his right ventricle.
His cervical spine was fused two years ago and doctors said within five to eight years paralysis will set in.
The accident ended O'Ferrell's 14-year career.
He is already starting to notice a loss of sensation and decided to live out his dream of cycling across America while he still can.
"I have always had a passion for cycling and have wanted to bike across America," O'Ferrell said. "I felt like this is my last chance to do this. My close friends told me to do it and make it count for something."
O'Ferrell is using his story and his cross-country bike path to raise awareness so the average citizen knows to move over when they see first responders such as paramedics, police officers, and firefighters working in an area or pulled over on the side of the road.
"This is so much bigger than me," O'Ferrell said. "When I stop along my path to meet up with police, firefighters, paramedics, I get pictures of their faces. I feel that the public needs to see their faces so when they see these people in the road they think of their safety."
More information can be found at www.facebook.com/MoveOverForEmergencyVehicles.