Pothole season dangerous for ambulances, paramedics and patients

(WHAM photo)

It is Rochester's "extra" season: pothole season!

While it is a nuisance for motorists, it can be a real danger for patients riding in an ambulance.

The EMT crews at Henrietta Ambulance try to make patients feel comfortable.

But in pothole season, it’s not always a smooth ride.

“We just feel bad for the patients because of the bumpy ride that we can’t control,” said Chief Reg Allen.

He says potholes can be dangerous for both paramedics and patients.

“When you’re sitting there taking care of the patient, you’re doing two things. Where are you gonna take the injection and you’re watching, and ideally you’re gonna do that right when you get to a traffic light,” said Allen.

“We’re going to start an IV, so we’re holding it, and we’re bouncing. Our whole body is bouncing with you, so when we start the IV, it goes in, and if you get a really good bump, it can be a problem because you miss the whole things and they’re bleeding all over the place," said Allen.

After a rough winter, they know which roads have the worst potholes.

Sudden movements and dodging potholes can also make their patients sick.

“He was in severe pain and throwing up, and I had to place his saline bag,” said Cockman. “So I had to reach over him and we had a pothole while he was throwing up, so it’s really hard to dip and dodge things while people are throwing up, cars moving - and then you hit a pothole? Everything just goes everywhere.”

Chief Allen added that while they try to avoid rough roads, they have to go where the patient is, so sometimes we don’t have a choice simply because there’s no other option.

“There are times we will literally be going five miles an hour just so when we hit the bumps, we’re not jostling the patient,” said Allen.

The city is using new infrared technology to fix potholes.

“It’s important not only for emergency response vehicles, but it’s also important for the every day driver,” said Norm Jones. “It could be your daughter, your son, your mother, your sister your brother.”

And these paramedics appreciate the city's effort.

“We have all the same mechanical issues every other driver has when they hit a pothole, but when you’re in the back of an ambulance, the ride is completely different,” Allen added.

The city says they've received about 700 pothole complaints. They say they've done about 1,000 repairs. They say the new technology to repair potholes is safer for crews.

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