Emergency Responders Work to Reduce Cold Weather Injuries

Updated: 01/06/2014 7:29 AM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough

Fire departments across the Metro are planning for an increase in cold weather related calls for help.

Extreme weather poses serious dangers, like frostbite or hypothermia.

Allina Health said they are implementing a Cold Weather Policy on Sunday and Monday to keep people safe during dangerous conditions.

Emergency responders will respond to all calls to a patient that is located outside with lights and sirens regardless of the type of injury to reduce exposure injuries that were caused while waiting for the ambulance.

Brooklyn Park and St. Paul fire departments are adding staff and adjusting strategies for the next few days. Time is of the essence in harsh temperatures.

"As Minnesotans, we're accustomed to cold weather," Fire Chief Ken Prillaman said. "But when we talk about temps, 50 or 60 degree's below zero, I don't think most people appreciate five minutes exposed to those type of temperatures has serious impact."

Chief Prillaman is opening Brooklyn Park's fourth fire station on the north end of town around the clock to keep response times to four minutes or less.

Just like in hot weather, experts say you have to rotate crews in and out of an emergency, to prevent more injuries.

At the scene of confirmed fires in St. Paul, eight more firefighters and two extra rigs will be on hand to relieve crews battling both the elements and fatigue.

Steve Zaccard with the St. Paul Fire Department said, "on a fire call we'll send an ambulance along with a truck in case we need a place to keep residents warm."