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Surprise Snow Keeps Ambulances Busy

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With so many accidents Tuesday we wondered how do first responders keep up? So we spoke with a first responder to see how they make sure there is always someone available to answer an emergency call.

Tuesday morning was a lot busier than usual. To put things into perspective last Tuesday, there were only six accidents compared to this Tuesday’s 58 accidents. Now not all of those accidents needed responding to, but it still kept the Rural Metro Ambulance Stations in Sioux Falls busy.

"It’s been hectic this morning,” said Scott Christensen, Operations Supervisor for Rural Metro Ambulance.

Snow may be pretty while falling, but once it hits the ground, it can cause some ugly situations.

“One accident can generate several calls quickly,” said Jennifer Disburg, Operations Manager at Metro Communications.

Jennifer Disburg is the operations manager at Metro Communications in Minnehaha County.

For her and the other employees snowy days mean more calls they have to answer and sort through.
“So when we answer the phones we will ask are you having an emergency, and we will base it on what the criteria is,” said Disburg.

Dispatchers receive all initial 911 and non-emergency calls.

And those calls need to be quickly answered and sent to the right first responders.

 “Once we know that we are having an injury accident, and how severe that accident is, it can take only a matter of seconds before we get help dispatched out,” said Disburg.

Then it is up to Scott Christensen and his crew of paramedics to get out and help those in need.
“We let metro know which ambulance is in route,” said Christensen.

Tuesday morning between 6:30 and 11:30 Christensen received 15 calls.

Out of the nine ambulances the Sioux Falls Metro Rural Ambulance has, six of them were out.

But Christensen said no matter how busy they get, they too have a system to make sure everyone who needs help gets it.

 “Certainly if there are more critical people waiting or an ambulance we dispatch to those first,” said Christensen.

Christensen said the only thing that slows them down is Mother Nature.
“We just move slow, sometimes we have to call the city plow over,” said Christensen.

If the three rural ambulance stations in Sioux Falls were to need assistance, Christensen said ambulances from Dell Rapids, Garretson and Humboldt are always on standby. But he said their assistance is never needed.

With the snow on the roads it may be difficult to pull over when you see those flashing lights in your rear view mirror. Christian said just stopping in the lane you are driving in would also help them get to where they need to go.  

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