Emergency Responders Approach Subzero Temperatures Differently

Some groups go out on scene, while others handle situations remotely

FARGO, N.D. — Whenever they go out on a call, paramedics with F–M Ambulance make sure that their paramedics and those they are helping are covered up from the cold.

However, the extra time devoted to safety, along with the colder temperatures, are slowing down some response times.

“Since it is so cold, it takes a bit longer to do calls and get to calls back–and–forth, stuff like that. The snow is blowing around a little bit too much as well, so that causes a little bit of delay of transport, so you’re seeing a little longer times to get patients to the hospitals,” said Don Martin of F-M Ambulance.

Over the last few days, F–M Ambulance has responded to several car accidents and cases of frostbite.

Martin says some Sanford locations have spaces devoted to keeping their paramedics and EMT’s warm.

“At all of our posts, we make sure there’s warm fluids for them to drink, like coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cider, stuff like that. We’re also providing hand–warmers for all of our ambulances too, so they can use them when they need to,” Martin said.

Some groups, like the American Red Cross, are keeping their volunteers out of the cold and instead handling all emergency responses with the help of technology.

For the last few days, Red Cross volunteers have been assisting people in need of housing without having to go outside.

“We just get contact information from whomever has been affected. We can conduct that interview over the phone, and figure out what they need. If their home is destroyed, maybe they need emergency lodging, so we can set them up with hotels, that sort of thing,” said Gretchen Hjelmstad with the American Red Cross Dakotas Region.

Even though both groups are handling the cold differently, one message stays the same.

“Make sure that you are covered, limit your exposure, limit your time outside, dress in layers,” Martin said.

Even though they are working remotely until the weather warms up, the Red Cross is in touch with local fire departments in case volunteers need to help at the scene.

Categories: Community, Local News, North Dakota News