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Winter Woes: More Falls and Collisions Increase Emergency Calls, but Bad Weather has Hampered Some Responders

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According to an official with Life Flight, bad weather conditions in recent weeks have "definitely been an issue for us." - STUART.MIKE, FLIKR, CC BY 2.0
  • stuart.mike, Flikr, CC by 2.0
  • According to an official with Life Flight, bad weather conditions in recent weeks have "definitely been an issue for us."
Slips and falls and bruises and sprains—according to officials, both St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus hospitals have seen an uptick in ice- and snow-related emergency room visits during the recent spate of harsh winter weather.

“Overall, we do see an increase in [fall-related injuries] this time of year,” said Saint Al's Media Relations Coordinator Joshua Schlaich. “People are just getting generally banged up.”

St. Luke's Public Relations Manager Anita Kissee reported the same. However, she noted that on days of heavy snowfall, the hospital typically sees fewer patients since it’s harder to get out and about.

Meanwhile, Ada County Paramedics Public Information Officer Hadley Mayes said emergency crews saw a bump in 911 calls when the snow was particularly bad—in large part the result of increased falls and collisions.

While ambulances rarely—if ever—get stuck in the snow, emergency air-life service Life Flight had some difficulties because of the weather. Chief Customer Officer Justin Dillingham said the service declined more flights in the past few months than it had during the same period in years prior.

Heavy snow and freezing rain conditions can deter visibility and ground helicopters, Dillingham said. In those cases, the service can send an airplane; however, rapid precipitation can also keep airplanes on the tarmac at smaller airports if the runway can’t be cleared of ice or snow as fast as it is accumulating.

As a final option, Life Flight sometimes drives patients with the help of local fire crews—but even that has been occasionally impossible in recent weeks thanks to highway closures. In those instances, responders just have to wait until conditions improve.

“We’re still in business, but it’s definitely been an issue for us,” Dillingham said of the weather.

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