SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Twin Cities paramedics had an extra obstacle to deal with Monday in getting injured Minnesotans to area hospitals.
The extreme cold meant some changes in ambulance procedures.
Allina Ambulances used lights and sirens responding to every call because of the danger of someone remaining in the cold while injured. Normally, the lights and sirens are only used when the patient must be moved to hospital care more quickly.
"Days like this,"said Dick Carpenter, an Allina paramedic, "you dress a little bit warmer, but the problem is you cannot dress too warm because we are in and out all the time."
Carpenter and fellow paramedic Jeff Townsend try to keep the space in their vehicle at 70 to 80 degrees, but even that may not be enough.
"Most of the cabinets here are heated," said Townsend. "(It) keeps the IV fluids warm. It keeps the extra blankets a little bit more warm."
Carpenter and Townsend said the number one priority is keeping the patient warm. Thus, they bundle up patients inside, then move them as quickly as possible, by stretcher, into their truck.
On Monday afternoon, the paramedics, based in Shakopee, responded to a call in Bloomington of an elderly woman falling on ice and bleeding. They were at the scene in a local bank branch in minutes.
"Just a few minutes with somebody who is elderly and frail can really lower their body temperature," noted Carpenter.
The woman suffered a cut to her forehead in the fall on some ice. Rather than remain outside on the ground, the woman made her way into a nearby warm bank branch and waited for help to arrive. In that case, the paramedics arrived, stabilized the woman, bundled her up and moved her to a local hospital.
En route, Townsend needed some of those heated blankets to keep his patient warm while he tracked her vital signs.