Two Ambulances Involved In Winter Mishaps

By mark Evans

mevans@stegenherald.com

Winter weather has made things challenging for the Ste. Genevieve County Ambulance District.

Kendall Shrum, executive director, reported at the district’s monthly board meeting last Thursday, that two weather-related mishaps took place.

One ambulance got stuck in a ditch alongside an unplowed rural driveway while picking up a patient. Another suffered damage after hitting a deer.

The deer incident took place in the outskirts of town, not too far from the district’s House 1, which allowed the Transit van to limp back to the house and change vehicles.

“It took out the front grill, bumper cover, both headlight assemblies and a passenger-side fender,” Shrum said. “The radiator busted and the air conditioning was damaged.”

It was a transfer from one hospital to the other.

The patient was unharmed. The Transit made it back to the house and the patient was switched to another vehicle.

“We’re lucky it happened so close,” Shrum said.

It was already being repaired and was expected to be back in action this week.

Another ambulance had to be wenched out of a ditch at about 3:30 a.m., last Thursday.

“Some of these driveways just aren’t cleaned yet; they haven’t been,” Shrum said. “A big box like that once they slide over in a ditch, they’re not coming out.”

The crew had to walk up the driveway to the patient’s house.

“Luckily, it was a ‘Do not transport.’ They guy wound up not going with us,” Shrum said.

There was no delay in patient care and none of the staff was injured.

Shrum said that the incident has led him to go ahead and have tow hooks installed on the rear as well as the front bumper of the ambulance that is currently being remounted in North Carolina.

He has also gotten a quote to add tow hooks on the back of all the Dodge ambulances. Shrum was disappointed that $1,753 would be the cost for mounting them at Columbia, Missouri. He will see about getting another quote, elsewhere.

NEW 911 EQUIPMENT SPARKS DISCUSSION

Shrum reported that the Alan Wells St. Francois County Joint Communication and EOC Center, which is the combined 911 center for Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois counties, has added new technology that will allow crew’s cell phones to connect to dispatching services. They can even use private channels, such as contacting only shift captains. It will come online in early March.

That led to a discussion about the arrangement and a St. Francois County tax issue that will be on the April ballot.

The two counties combined 911 services in 2011, saving both huge sums of money. Ste. Genevieve County would probably have had to spend $1 million or so to upgrade its own 911 center and its equipment

The county pays about $55,000 a year for the service, which board members agreed would barely pay the salary of one experienced  dispatcher.

Shrum warned, though, that the fee could go up if St. Francois County voters do not renew the county’s 911 tax, which had a “sunset” termination this year.

“It’s been a good thing for us,” he said.

NURSING HOMES RAISE NUMBERS

During his report, Shrum shared the district’s total runs for the month and year. In January there were 238 total calls, up from 208 in January 2020 and 211 in 2020. Of those, 165 were emergencies, compared to 145 a year ago and 162 two years ago.

Shrum noted that transfers have especially spiked, going from 47 two years ago and 57 last year to 73.

“Transfers were up quite a bit,” he said. “Nursing homes kept us hopping quite a bit.”

Of the emergency calls, 80 were from House 1 on Basler Drive, 43 from House 2 in Bloomsdale and 42 from House 3 near Weingarten.