MAGOFFIN – Last week proved to be a very busy week for the Magoffin County Rescue Squad, which logged more than 450 manhours during and after multiple ice and winter storms hit this region.
Magoffin County Rescue Squad Captain Carter Conley said the squad responded to five accidents, 20 medical calls and 36 calls for transportation, welfare checks, medicine delivery and other miscellaneous needs.
Of the wrecks, he said one person was injured Monday night in a multiple vehicle accident on Oakley, and in the process of checking the people involved in the wreck one of the rescue squad members fell on the ice and his teeth cut through his mouth.
Conley said two emergency medical calls stood out, with one on Half Mountain requiring crews to cut through 20 trees to get to the patient using a UTV with chains on the wheels. After five hours, they were able to get to the patient and get him medical attention.
On Tuesday last week, another call required crews to cut through 10 trees on Elk Creek, taking three hours to cut a path so a medic could get to the scene, though, unfortunately, the patient passed away.
“We had both of our UTVs with chains on them to bring patients out to the ambulances, and sometimes even the UTVs couldn’t make it,” Conley said about the conditions they were working in.
The rescue squad responded to 36 miscellaneous calls, providing non-emergency medical transportation, delivering medications or kerosene, and doing welfare checks.
One of the rescue squad’s vehicles was involved in a two-vehicle collision on Salt Lick as crews were delivering medications and food on a one-lane road.
Another vehicle was heavily damaged Monday night (when the ice storm hit), when they were cutting a tree on Mason.
“We heard popping and cracking, and another tree fell on the truck with me and another unit in the vehicle,” Conley said.
“When we do these things, we don’t know if we are going to get to go home. We strive to be safe, help people and everybody go home at the end of the call, but we never really know.”
Crews were unable to do a medicine delivery on Goat Lick when even the Kubota couldn’t make it up the hill to the caller, but the medical provider made other arrangements to get the medicine to the patient.
As far as comparable ice storms, Conley said this ice storm may have been worse than the 2009 ice storm since knocked out power to most of the City of Salyersville, the water system went out and it inevitably affected more people.
“The 2009 ice storm was probably just as bad, but you have to consider population growth and the expansion of electricity and water throughout the county,” Conley said. “This was three storms in a row and the last time we just had one, so that compounded it. We had more time for recovery after the storm in 2009, but this recovery had to happen while more dangerous weather was still going on.”
Conley said that they received numerous calls about people on oxygen running out of oxygen.
“I don’t know if people didn’t take the weather forecast seriously or what, but we got a lot of calls about oxygen,” Conley said. “If bad weather is in the forecast, or if you just live in a more remote area, call your supplier and make sure you have more tanks in case of emergencies.”
He said a local medical supplier did help to distribute supplies to those who ran out during the storm, but he reminded the public that the rescue squad only has oxygen on their trucks and there is only so much they can do, so it is important to be prepared for these types of situations.
“We’re always throwing ourselves in harm’s way when we go on these calls and we’re just thankful God helps us return home,” Conley said.
Conley extended a “thank you” to the Kentucky National Guard for sending two people to help respond to EMS calls.
On a related note, Conley also reminded the public that fire season started on February 15 and even though everything is relatively damp right now following the storm, it is still prime time for forest fires, noting that a windy day can dry out the leaves and brush quickly. With all the downed trees, he reminded people to be careful with burning during this fire season.