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Medical professionals provide service despite snow

December 19, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Saturday's weather was enough to keep most Washington County residents at home, but for some, including fire and rescue personnel and hospital staff, lives depended on their ability to trek through the snow.

At Washington County Hospital, volunteer drivers proved critical to the hospital's ability to get its staff to work Saturday, administrative nursing director Jody Bishop said. Volunteers with four-wheel drive vehicles were picking up staff who could not make it to work on their own, she said. They weren't able to get to the staff who live the farthest away, such as those in Frederick, Md., and Chambersburg, Pa., but most of the others were able to get to work, Bishop said.

"So far, we've been very fortunate," Bishop said.

In addition, many of the hospital's staff members stayed overnight Friday night, Bishop said.

She said she hoped the roads would be plowed enough by this morning that more of the staff could get to work on their own.

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Ambulance company members said responding to calls was a challenge Saturday, when only main roads were plowed in many areas and residential streets were buried under a foot or more of snow.

"It's just been really nasty," said Jonas Zeigler, a paramedic with Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services.

Zeigler said the company had snow shovels in its ambulances that it was using to clear paths where needed, but the company also had to call plow trucks in many situations.

He said the company's response times had been a little longer than normal, but the company had been able to get to everything it needed to get to.

"Thank God that everything we've run so far has been minor stuff," he said.

The Williamsport Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services has its own snow plow that it ran in front of its emergency vehicles, Deputy Chief Fred Cole said.

Cole said the company's first call of the day was on Dam 4 Road, which he said the company would never have been able to traverse without a plow.

Cole said the company had responded to a several falls and a situation where someone shoveling snow had gone into cardiac arrest.

"We've handled all our calls," he said. "It's taken a little longer to get there than normal, but we've been able to get to everybody."

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