Snow removal prompting emergency room visits

Snow removal prompting emergency room visits

ERIE, Pa. -- After a historic snowfall that briefly led to a disaster emergency for Erie County, life is starting to get back to normal.

"I've been shoveling since the 23rd and haven't stopped shoveling yet,” said Erie resident John Ruiz, while chipping away at ice on his porch.

Several houses down on East Lake Road, Blanca Gore took turns shoveling the driveway with her husband.

"I've never experienced this type of snow before,” said the lifelong Erieite. “So, I'm just trying to dig a little a snow out, so we can get our truck in here."

As she cleared a path to the street, Gore said she was keeping safety in mind.
"I do my bending, of course,” she said. “I know better than to just lift up heavy weight like that."

Ruiz was making sure to keep his back straight while shoveling.

"Don't go full back into it and just try to pull it up, because either your shovel is going to break, or you're going to hurt yourself,” he said.

Across town, some people found using a snow blower to be easier, but it can bring risks.

"Do not attempt to clear the auger housing or impeller with your hands. Most new snow blowers will come with a tool, usually attached to the front of the snowblower that's made for that purpose,” said Glenn Lane, service and sales manager of Wagner Mower & Plow Sales and Service, 5462 W Ridge Rd.

By Wednesday evening, UPMC Hamot and Saint Vincent Health System were treating patients for chest pains and injuries from falls and snow blower-related hand injuries, according to representatives.

Whether snow blowing or shoveling, Erie Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Fahey warned that people should pace themselves.

"We don't want any injuries,” he said. “We don't want heart attacks--people going into cardiac arrest trying to shovel. Take your time. Take breaks. Certainly go back inside and get warmed up."

Ruiz echoed the suggestion.

"It's been every four hours, faithfully. Just come outside and dig up as much as you can. Go inside. Warm up and do it again."

Erie County requested assistance from Team Rubicon to help residents clean up and remove snow. The County partnered with United Way’s 2-1-1 Call Center to deploy the volunteers.

The volunteers will arrive in Erie on Thursday morning, and they begin rendering aid in the afternoon to seniors or residents with medical conditions or disability.

For more information about dialing 2-1-1, click here.

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