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Health

Snow Challenging For First Responders

By Dr. Maria Simbra
(Source: KDKA)

(Source: KDKA)

CBS Pittsburgh (con't)

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Health News & Information: CBSPittsburgh.com/Health

ROSS TOWNSHIIP (KDKA) — The winter weather makes certain types of calls more likely for paramedics.

“Lots of traffic accidents, lots of slips and falls,” says Greg Porter, the assistant director of Ross/West View EMS. “The last snow storm we had two cardiac arrests in a matter of hours from people shoveling snow, and we expect to see at least one call like that, and we haven’t had that yet.”

With the day’s call volume doubling from 20 to 40, the staffing doubles, too, from 10 to 20 — an important adjustment, considering travel time can double.

Travel is a huge influencing factor in weather like this because what would typically be a 40 or 45 minute 9-1-1 call turns into an hour and a half or two hours.

Among today’s calls — not the expected emergency, but somewhat weather-related.

“Lehigh Avenue and West View, 11-year-old female struck by a shovel, not alert, time out 13:58,” came the call over the intercom.

“We’re going to Lehigh Avenue in West View,” Scottie Garing said.

Garing is the paramedic driving the jeep as the siren blares.

“Apparently there’s an 11-year-old female struck in the head by a shovel that’s unconscious. Today, of course, I’m thinking, ‘Did she make it inside, or is she outside?’ because cold is going to be a factor in how she’s going to be doing, whether or not she is truly unconscious because sometimes people tend to elaborate.”

The girl was hit in the head with a shovel during a snow fort battle. Turns out she wasn’t unconscious, but dazed.

“If it would have been earlier today, the snow would have been piled up, it wouldn’t have been slush like it was. We would have shoveled the walk,” Garing said.

The vehicle had no problem in the afternoon sun, but in the thick of the storm, it was another story. Ambulances got stuck, patients had to be transferred between trucks and crews had to dig out.

“We free up resources to go get that ambulance unstuck, whether it’s a rescue truck with a wench on it, or a tow truck, or just a couple guys with a whole lot of heart and some shovels and some rock salt,” says Porter.

Today it turns out it was easy to find the house for the call, but paramedics ask that when it’s busy like this, make sure the house numbers are clearly marked. Sometimes it’s hard to see that in bad weather. Also if you have an able-bodied person in the house, make sure your walkway and steps are clear. That makes it easier, faster and safer for everyone.

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