Snowy roads mean slower response times for ambulances - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Snowy roads mean slower response times for ambulances

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Ambulances may look mighty but they are not unstoppable, even with dual tires and on-spot chains. Ambulances may look mighty but they are not unstoppable, even with dual tires and on-spot chains.
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Snowy roads will mean slower response times for ambulances.

"Realistically, you could have a response time of 20 minutes," said Deputy Chief Tom Collins, Director of the Medical Bureau for the Kansas City Fire Department.

Ambulances may look mighty but they are not unstoppable, even with dual tires and on-spot chains.

"They get around very good on the snow," Collins said.  "But if you get a deep snow, nothing really gets around because the snow builds up underneath and then that stops the tires."

That's why the department will be positioning its three pickups and four brush buggies throughout the metro. Both vehicles are 4-wheel-drive and high off the ground. The pickup can even transport a patient in a pinch.

"It does have the brackets that we can hook a cot in, just like we do in the back of the ambulances," Collins explained. "The head room is not optimal to move a patient, but we can put a patient in here and get them out of some of those side streets where we have difficulty moving patients around and where we can't get the ambulances into."

It's a great resource but a limited one, so often a crew that gets stuck can get to a patient on foot faster than a 4-wheel-drive can arrive.

That's what happened at East 74th and Oak street last year when an ambulance got stuck on the tall part of a rut created by a snow plow. The ambulance made it down Oak but got stuck turning onto 74th Street. The crew was there responding to a call about a heart attack.

"As soon as the wheels got stuck, they jumped out of the ambulance and were booking it to his house," David Kissick said. "There was hardly any delay."

Kissick was one of about a dozen neighbors who swiftly dug out the problem area while the rescue crew went to work on their neighbor inside his home.

That neighbor, Patrick Gettino, died days later, but Kissick says Gettino was breathing when the crew wheeled him away.

"It's unfortunate," Kissick said. "Pat was a big part of this neighborhood and meant a lot to his neighbors, but we tried our best and the ambulance crew did their job."

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