Winter chill leads to emergency calls

The colder temperatures have proven dangerous for some. Since Christmas, EMS has responded to numerous weather-related calls.

Signs of winter are all around us. Icicles hang from bushes and trees. At an H-E-B in Pflugerville, ice transformed a car wash into a stunning sight. 

While some of us would just as soon experience these sights through our television, there are those brave enough to go outdoors for a jog.

"I'm training for a half marathon,” said Paul Chavarria. "At first, the first mile or so it kind of hurts your chest. and today I didn't bring gloves which was a mistake. After that you don't even notice it."

While Paul Chavarria fares pretty well, Austin-Travis County EMS Captain Darren Noak says crews have come to the aid of dozens for weather-related issues.

Topping the list-- nine calls classified as environmental exposure. Some of those patients were homeless with no escape from the elements.

"Get them inside somewhere. Get them inside of a building. And then after that we have heat packs we can use and we can apply them to areas where blood vessels run very closely to the skin. We cover them up with blankets and try to warm them up as best we can,” said Captain Noak.

Noak says carbon monoxide issues also proved problematic with eight calls since Christmas.

"What you're looking for is headaches, just general fatigue, maybe some nausea."

To prevent any of those issues, he cautions against using certain methods to heat your home.

"Stoves, ovens, any kind of open flame, propane heaters, definitely don't want to do that. That could expose people to carbon monoxide,” said Noak.

He says those with respiratory issues are among the reports, along with slips and falls.

Austin firefighters experienced a slippery situation while responding to a fire on Monday.

"Spraying water and putting the fire out, had some ice accumulate on floors, had some firefighters slip and go down from the ice they created, not normally something we worry about,” said AFD Division Chief Palmer Buck.

Firefighters solved that problem with kitty litter. 

Noak says paramedics have taken steps to keep themselves safe too.

"Everyone is provided with stocking caps, knit caps we all have our fleece jackets and our other jackets,” said Noak. "We've got to take care of ourselves before we can take care of the people out there."