GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Even as emergency responders face the same driving challenges as everyone else, severe winter weather makes for some of their busiest days.
“We cover 4,200 square miles of West Michigan, so Ludington is going to be very different from Kalamazoo, Portage,” Mark Meijer, the president of Life EMS Ambulance and a licensed paramedic, said. “In the 10 counties in West Michigan that we serve, any given afternoon, kind of the peak of the day, we may have close to 60 ambulances deployed.”
Getting ambulances to patients can be a challenge especially if the amount of ice increases rapidly.
“Not only getting safely to where people need us but then even navigating, getting up to somebody’s front door or down in the ditch with a motor vehicle accident,” Meijer said.
Ada Township firefighters deal with similar challenges, Chief David Murray said.
“We’ve got trucks with snowplows where we’ve actually had to use those to get to a house,” Murray said.
He expected calls to increase with higher amounts of ice.
“It was a few years ago where we had just became a 24-hour department and we ran 40 calls in a 24-hour period (during an ice event),” Murray said. “The majority of that was wires down, trees down, so we were out closing roads, cutting up trees if we could.”
The medical calls also go beyond the car crashes and common emergencies.
“We kind of forget about simply walking down your driveway to get the mail or the newspaper from the mailbox, be careful. We deal with lots of hip fractures, those kind of things, somebody falls and breaks their arm bracing themselves,” Meijer said.
Life EMS says it brings in some additional crews during severe weather to help with the need keep response times speedy.