Twenty people headed down Airline Highway on Sept. 25 during the 3rd Annual Louisiana EMS Memorial Bike Ride from New Orleans to Baton Rouge – a distance of 68 miles.
The riders, from all over the country, were participating to try to raise awareness of EMS workers who have passed away.
“There is no monument in Louisiana to EMS workers who have died on the job,” said Craig Melancon, a St. Rose resident who helped to coordinate the ride. “We want to build a monument somwhere in the state…where we can put these names.”
The riders’ first stop was at the St. Rose Driving Range with the help of the St. Rose Volunteer Fire Department.
Each rider wore a dog tag with the name of an EMS who has passed away.
“Last year, we wore a tag of someone who had died in every district we rode through,” Melancon said. “Fortunately we don’t have to wear those again because we haven’t had any (EMS workers) die in the line of duty.”
But Melancon wore the same tag this year that he has worn in past years with the name Earl Baloney.
Baloney was an ambulance driver and paramedic in St. John parish. He was part of the family that owned Baloney Funeral Home in Garyville.
The funeral home operated an independent ambulance service for 25-30 years until Earl was killed on the job by a drunk driver, said Earl’s brother, Carl Baloney.
“Earl was instrumental in training other paramedics throughout the river parishes,” Carl said. “We’re very appreciate of the consideration given and the honor placed upon my brother during the annual EMS ride.”