Ambulances have a rough time in winter storm

For ambulances, the heavy snow that fell across the area Thursday made it difficult coming and going — coming to patients and going to the hospital.

The snow wasn’t the only challenge. Ambulance drivers had to dodge abandoned cars and drifts caused by snowplows.

Some ambulance crews told dispatchers they were stuck or they had to get out and walk to patients. Some patients had to be carried to waiting ambulances so they could be taken to a hospital.

“We definitely have seen an increase in response times and transport times,” said Angela Fera, public information officer for Johnson County Med-Act.

The ambulance service saw a 70 percent increase in call volume that officials blamed largely on the weather — including car crashes, falls and people who would have taken themselves to the hospital if the snowstorm hadn’t made roads a mess.

Johnson County Med-Act put an additional four ambulances and three extra Ford Expeditions on the streets to meet the extra demand.

Kansas City ambulance crews also had more calls than normal, said Battalion Chief James Garrett, a spokesman for the Kansas City Fire Department.

The Fire Department was working with other city departments to make sure ambulances could get to and from patients. The department also put five extra ambulances on the streets.

There were cases where ambulances were getting stuck, but Garrett said that wasn’t the only department facing the problem.

“The biggest advice is if you don’t have to go out, please stay home,” he said. “However, if there is a problem involving a sickness or illness, we will get there and assist you. We will definitely be there.”