Rural Connections: A Rescue Through the Snow

Rural Connections: A Rescue Through the Snow

By Tim Zehnder

In this month’s Rural Connections I will recap an incident of which I was recently made aware. The incident occurred in a rural community in a southern Minnesota town of 750 people and showed how important volunteers are to the communities they serve.

On April 14, 2018, southern Minnesota was hit with a major snowstorm. The snow and wind started around 0800 hours, and by 1200 hours there was 12 inches of snow or more on the ground. All roads were closed. The county and state pulled plows because of the rate of snowfall and low visibility. By 1900 hours the snow had piled to 14 inches or more, with snowdrifts as high as three to four feet because of the extreme winds. The snow was wet, heavy, springtime snow, making the roads very slippery.

The fire department was well organized, providing fire protection and first-responder service, part of which is covered by a basic life support (BLS) service to the west and an advanced life support (ALS) service to the east. At around 2030 hours, this department and the ALS unit were called to a location about three miles south of town for a person who had fallen and was unconscious but still breathing.

It was difficult for members to get to the station because of the large amount of snow on the ground, but they were still able to get the rescue rolling to the scene in about three minutes. On the way to the victim’s location, they heard the ALS unit call for a state or county plow to help create a path to the location because the department runs two-wheel drive units only and had to travel about eight miles to get to the location. On the way to the scene, members in the rescue discussed options; a call was made to the members with plows on their pick-up trucks so they could start opening the road to get the ALS unit to the scene.

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