A spring storm blanketed most of southern Saskatchewan on Wednesday causing road closures on several area highways and whiteout conditions.
The storm has also caused delays for Medavie Health Services West EMS crews when it comes to inter-facility patient transports.
Kyle Sereda, Medavie Health Services Wests’ Chief General Manager – Moose Jaw says that due to the weather and road conditions, there have only been delays to two out-of-city patient transports but expects there could be more.
“Just (delays) with routine procedures and certainly capacity within those facilities due to staffing,” says Sereda. “If personnel doesn’t show up for work procedures get changed and delayed. We are not always privy to that – whatever is booked we try to accommodate and if we have to hold them, we will. Nothing has been cancelled to my knowledge today or moved to another day.”
Sereda adds that the weather conditions have not affected or delayed the 9-1-1 calls, as the delays have just been for the out-of-city transports.
As of the time of publishing, the storm system, which is expected to bring up to 20 centimetres of snow by Friday, has shut down Highway #39 southeast of Moose Jaw to Estevan and Highway #6 south of Regina to the Canada/US Border.
In addition, travel is not recommended on highways in all directions of Moose Jaw.
In weather events like this one, Sereda explains that Medavie Services has specific protocols in place to protect the staff and patients.
One rule of thumb that they follow is that they will always make an attempt even if road conditions advise against travel.
“Crews are given the ability to make those decisions while they’re driving. Many times, they’ll attempt, they’ll go slow, and will try to navigate the weather. If it becomes unsafe based on the assessment of the crew, they will turn around or stop until they’re able to proceed or get back home safely.”
In the event EMS crews must stop temporarily to wait out the storm or have to turn around, their communication officer will remain on the line with the 9-1-1 caller to let them know what’s happening and get updates on patient conditions.
“It’s putting the paramedics themselves at risk in some cases and in others we might get to the patient and try to transport them back to the hospital. We’re also increasing the risk of safety for that patient as well. We might be able to get to you, but we do have to travel the same roads and if we get stuck, who comes out and helps the helpers.”
With the potential for road conditions to worsen throughout the day, Sereda is reminding motorists to stay safe while driving.
“Slow down! The best way to prevent the need for any service in an emergency is to slow down in these conditions and think twice before going out onto the highways if you don’t need to be the best advice in winter storms.”
The Saskatchewan RCMP is advising motorists to postpone non-essential travel until the weather and road conditions improve.
If the decision is to travel, they recommend ensuring your vehicle had enough fuel, and that you have extra warm clothes, snacks, water, a phone charger, and a snow shovel in the event you get stranded or stuck.
Also consider stocking your vehicle with traction mats, a tow rope or chain, and a booster cable.
Report highway conditions to Discover Moose Jaw by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org