HEMSI Prepares For Cold Weather Emergencies

Posted on: 9:32 pm, January 2, 2014, by , updated on: 10:31pm, January 2, 2014

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – On any given winter morning in the Tennessee Valley, icy front steps or hypothermia may not be a concern, but with lows in the teens and single digits upon us, emergency responders are preparing for winter weather related incidents.

HEMSI Medical Director, Eric Greenfield, says during severe cold three categories of people are most at risk: the sick, the young, and the elderly.

“They’re on a fixed income and keep their temperatures low. They’re more susceptible to hypothermia because of their age and they have concurrent medical issues,” said Greenfield.

He also warned against one of the most common calls: slips and falls.

“We see mostly trauma from ice. People going down stairs and slipping on the sidewalks, spraining and fracturing their ankles.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another threat. One of the biggest dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is that the symptoms are easily overlooked.

“When it gets cold people turn their heaters on and if they’re not adjusted properly they can create carbon monoxide,” said Greenfield. “Everyone in a house could all have symptoms of headache, nausea, sometimes they can dismiss that as the flu, but it can be carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Finally, Greenfield warns of hypothermia, a subtle and deceptive killer.

“There is actually a period as you go deep into hypothermia where they get a euphoric feeling, and actually take their clothes off. which obviously worsens the situation.”

HEMSI officials caution you to bundle up if you plan to spend any amount of time outdoors during the next week, and to be aware of icy roads and sidewalks.