Ambulance crews and hospital emergency rooms have been busy dealing with numerous patients injured by falls on icy streets and sidewalks, Alberta Health Services officials say.
“At about one o’clock in the afternoon [Tuesday] emergency medical services started seeing a big spike in call volumes,” said Alex Campbell, EMS public education officer.
At total of 89 such calls came between 1 p.m. and midnight, he said.
On a typical winter day, EMS might respond to five such calls, said Campbell.
“This is really taxing on the EMS system, as well as the emergency departments, and eventually the hospital orthopedic wards, because a lot of these are very serious injuries,” he said. “They can really land people in the hospital for a long time.”
Between midnight and 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, EMS received three calls about falls, he said.
Environment Canada issued a freezing rain warning Tuesday for Edmonton, St. Albert and Sherwood Park.
Just after 4 p.m. Tuesday, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP responded to a call about a school bus that had slid off the road and was on its side in the ditch.
Ten students and one driver were on the bus. No injuries were reported, said police.
‘Land on your bum’
Many injuries EMS deals are people who stretched out their arms to break a fall, Campbell said.
“If you land on your bum it’s a fairly cushioned surface, and you are more likely to lessen your injury,” he said.
Campbell suggested that pedestrians on icy sidewalks should walk “like a penguin,” taking short shuffling steps, keeping their hands out of their pockets.
Anyone who falls should try to get up, said Campbell, to avoid hypothermia.
If the person can’t be moved, provide a blanket or an extra layer of clothing and call EMS.