Ambulance workers recount challenges during huge lake effect storm

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:51 PM EST
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EVANS MILLS, New York (WWNY) - When lake effect snow rolled into the north country on November 18, emergency workers faced a major challenge. We checked in with volunteer ambulance squads to see what they had to do to make it through the storm.

The storm dumped several feet of snow in a very short time, shutting down parts of the north country. However, ambulance squads kept going.

“We’re always prepared for a call. But you had to be prepared that you might not be able to get to your hospital,” said Lance Ronas, CEO of Indian River Ambulance Service.

Out of the 3 calls the ambulance service responded to that Friday, 2 of them resulted in hospital trips. Since Watertown and Carthage were borderline inaccessible due to the road conditions, patients were rerouted to hospitals in Alexandria Bay and Gouverneur.

According to Ronas, it was the only way to get timely help to patients.

“Time is of the essence. That puts an added stress on our EMS corps,” he said.

During the storm, the Evans Mills Volunteer Ambulance Squad faced some problems of its own. They received two calls Friday and both were held up when the squad got stuck in the snow.

“It was awful. It was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in the years I’ve been doing this and we’ve had a lot of snowstorms,” said Christine David, Evans Mills Volunteer Ambulance Squad president.

On both occasions, the squad was able to receive help getting unstuck. But officials are thankful neither of their patients needed to be transported to the hospital.

David said their vehicle was significantly held up by other drivers. Before the next storm, urges motorists to follow recommendations.

“Please stay off of the road. It would make our job a lot easier. Remember it could be your loved one we are coming to and can’t get to. Stay home. Stay put,” she said.

In the aftermath of the storm, ambulance squads responded to reports of chest pain as people cleared the snow.