Monday, January 3, 2011

Winter Weather on the Ambulance and in the ER

Are you considering a career as an EMT? Here's another thing to think about. If you're an EMT, you will be exposed to the elements. If you don't like to be hot, cold wet, sweaty or any combination of those, a career in EMS may not be for you.

Winter weather is your enemy on the ambulance and the ER. People in my neck of the woods are known for not knowing how to drive in the rain. They lose their mind with any type of frozen precipitation. I live and work in the Southeast where most of the cities are not well prepared for ice and snow.

When there is a forecast for ice or snow, the first thing that happens is a mad rush to the stores. Insane people clear the shelves of bread, peanut butter, milk and beer. You would think that would be a sign that people were going to stay home during the weather event. You would be wrong. People will leave the house even after the public officials have advised them to stay home.

Most of the people on the road will fall into two categories. The ones who drive to slow to have enough momentum to carry them up ice and snow, and the ones who don’t slow down at all. Both behaviors lead to slipping and sliding.

It snowed here. It snowed a lot. Definitely more snow than we are used to here. We responded to wreck after wreck. People don’t always have the best courtesy when it comes to yielding for an emergency vehicle.

I’m not bragging about my driving skills, but I am well trained. I have taken two emergency vehicle driving courses. That instruction has made me a much better driver in the ambulance and in my personal vehicle. Here’s a suggestion for the folks out there. In hazardous conditions, don’t drive faster than the ambulance and the fire engine.

Time after time we were passed while running emergency. We had to stop several times for witnessed accidents. We responded to several rollovers where no one was hurt, We responded to accidents that looked more minor but had some serious injuries. You never know what you’re going to find.

I worked the next day in the ER. The ER was already at red capacity at 7am. And the hits kept coming we had people on backboards everywhere. They were lining the halls. I spent the day working trauma. It continued to snow during my whole shift.

We also had a lot of slips and falls. Sorry to tell the truth, but older folks are particularly susceptible to these accidents. We had several who slipped going out to get the paper. Next time it snows or ices, please skip the paper and watch CNN.

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