Law enforcement & paramedics prepare to respond in bitter cold: 'It's real tough to prepare yourself'

On frigid days like today first responders have to make sure they're not putting themselves at risk while still responding to car crashes and home accidents.

Posted: Feb 13, 2020 5:21 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2020 7:09 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Law enforcement and paramedics are often the first on scene to save us in an emergency but on frigid days like today they have to make sure they're not putting themselves at risk while still responding to car crashes and home accidents.

Senior director of Ambulance Services Mayo Clinic Paul Drucker explained, "If we're not prepared then it's a distraction from patient care and we can't do the best we can for patients."

Drucker says Mayo Clinic plans ahead. They have a daily leadership brief with agencies across Minnesota and Wisconsin to discuss weather events, road closures and look ahead at the next 24-hours.

"We were looking ahead to this cold snap knowing that this is a pretty extraordinary risk for patients and our crew members.
Vehicle operations, the vehicles don't always perform the same way when it's very cold," he said.

Assistant supervisor Kate Arms say on cold call days crews put additives in the fuel so the diesel-powered ambulances can perform in the low temps. She says cold also impact the way paramedics interact with patients.

"It affects the way we run our calls in that we can't leave a patient outside or we need to make sure we can get them from their home to the ambulance faster than we normally would. So, they're all things we need to account for in the way that we do patient care," said Arms.

Arms added the cold weather can, of course, increase call volume saying, "Today has been one of our busy days that our call volume has been up. We've been running a lot of calls, some weather related, some just happen to be medicals in the system that we've been running."

Minnesota State Patrol prepares as well by making sure to bundle up so troopers can be outside for longer periods of time.

Sgt. Troy Christianson said, "It's real tough to prepare yourself when it's this cold but what we do is we have really good clothing so we just wear multiple layers and we try to be outside as little as possible but we just try to stay warm and wear multiple layers and just try not to think about how cold you actually are."

One way you can help paramedics is by clearing out your driveways and de-icing sidewalks to give first responders easier access to patients.

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