The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 9, 2014

Falls, frostbite bring patients into hospital

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — In the wake of one of the coldest 48-hour periods in Clinton history, residents, organizations and businesses are shaking off the cold and getting back to a normal life.

But, not everybody was able to survive the wickedly cold temperatures unscathed according to several reports of injury mishaps and health scares over the duration of the Arctic blast.

According to Julie Dunn, director of marketing for Mercy Medical Center, there were approximately 20 to 25 emergency room visits spanning from Sunday evening to Tuesday afternoon due to the hazardous weather conditions.

“Kathy Hughes, director of emergency services, said the majority of visits were due to falls on ice and traffic accidents, as well as some for frostbite,” Dunn said. “Anytime you see this type of weather we see an increase in emergency room visits, so I think that they prepare for it.”

Although the emergency room at Mercy Medical Center’s north campus reported a number of weather-related incidents, Clinton Fire LT. Michael McQuistion said the Emergency Medical Services department did not respond to a single call attributed to the frigid temperatures.

“After reviewing the incidents that the Clinton Fire Department responded to (Monday) I found that none were directly related to the cold weather,” McQuistion said.

Unlike the fire department, Animal Control officer Kristi Shaw did receive two calls on Monday requesting a welfare check on two separate instances in which dogs were tied up outside a residence with no form of shelter to protect them from the bitter cold.

However, when Shaw arrived at the residences the dogs were removed from their outdoor posts and brought inside prior to her arrival.

“I did have two calls about a dog that was tied up outside without shelter, but by the time I had gotten there the dog had been taken inside,” Shaw said.”Both of them as far as I know were inside the residences so I just left written warnings.”

Shaw also said the Clinton public service officer located one stray dog roaming near Miller Ridge Apartments that was picked up and taken to the humane society for warm shelter, food and hydration.

Along with the one dropped off by the public service officer, the humane society also received two other stray dog drop-offs that were victim to the frigid temperatures on Monday.

Fortunately, none of the three dogs had been exposed to the negative temperatures long enough to succumb to the symptoms of hypothermia or frost bite, and only needed warming with several blankets and hot water bottles to bring their temperatures back to their normal 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re not allowed to do any treatment when an animal is brought in as a stray because we have not been in contact with the owners,” humane society office support assistant Kim Bielema said. “In this instance when they came, they were just cold. People had brought them into their homes before bringing them to us so they just needed shelter, warmth and food.”

According to Clinton Veterinary Clinic general veterinarian Dr. Nathan Eslick, hypothermia and frostbite cases would typically occur more frequently in strays because they are exposed to the elements for longer periods of times but that it is often a rare occurrence.

Not a single case of hypothermia or frostbite was reported by any of Clinton’s veterinary clinics, reassuring that people had listened to the advice given by many weather officials and kept a close eye on their furry friends during Monday and Tuesday’s cold snap.

“It’s very important to keep track of our pets during the very cold and the very hot weather,” Eslick said. “Even when they’re in a fenced-in yard that they would typically roam free in we encourage that you wait by the door and let them in when they’re ready. They’ll let you know when they’ve had enough.”