Law enforcement, fire departments and EMS agencies face major challenges during unusual and rare Louisiana ice conditions. During round one of January's winter storms, Acadian Ambulance worked with local and state agencies getting real-time updates that allowed them to successfully transport 1,493 patients without incident.
Taking that experience along with years of hurricane and flood response prepares medics for what is expected to be a much worse storm situation.
"We've already learned several things from Friday. We've got a lot of things in place. We moved generators to ambulance stations that are vulnerable to power failures," said Vice President of Operations, Clay Henry.
Besides extra generators, Acadian will utilize 20 extra ambulances and over 400 paramedics. Crews worked prior to Tuesday to reduce response time once roads and bridges becomes thick, slick slabs of ice.
"We've been moving some of those resources and some of those ambulances there so that they can have service on either sides of those bridges," said Henry.
According to the VPO, medics spent time Monday reviewing course materials on driving on ice as well as passing word of mouth tips. Meanwhile, dispatchers prepare to give pre-arrival instruction to anyone calling in an emergency, especially when seconds could make a difference.
Henry said, "If there are any delays in getting to some of these residents, we will stay on the phone with them and offer them help until we can get them help.""
Unintentional delays of medical or other response agency could result from unnecessary traffic on roads.
"If someone is out on the road, they are actually in the way of other emergency agencies as well from fire department to police, law enforcement, EMS and all that. These resources are shared from parish to parish. Stay home," Henry explained.
Acadian Ambulance is expecting over 5,000 calls between Tuesday and Wednesday. At the dispatch center, crew will work staggered 12-hour shifts to ensure there will always be more than enough employees present during peak hours.