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December 6th - Annual Public Safety Announcement from Ottawa Paramedics

This Public Advisory comes as an Annual Public Safety Announcement (PSA) following 2 separate emergency calls in a 1-hour span this morning, that Ottawa paramedics responded to in which patients were involved in snow-clearing activities.

Snow shoveling can lead to a number of health risks for many people, from back injuries to heart attacks. The mix of cold temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart, which for some may increase the risk of a heart attack.

This morning, minutes after 0700 hrs, paramedics were called to respond to the area of Innes and Pagé where a male in his late 40s had developed sudden chest discomfort after assisting someone getting their vehicle through heavy snow at his workplace. Upon completion of their assessment, paramedics determined that the patient was experiencing a Myocardial infarction (MI) and required immediate medical attention. He was brought to the Heart Institute for an assessment by a cardiologist prior to undergoing an emergency surgery (cardiac catherization). Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, a male patient in his late 60s was witnessed to have collapsed to the ground in his driveway by his neighbours as he was in the process of shoveling the heavy snow received overnight. Bystanders activated 9-1-1 and started CPR. Emergency personnel responded and performed resuscitation manoeuvres. The patient was transported to the emergency department in life-threatening condition.

We would also like to highlight an occurrence in which a member of our community came to our assistance. At around 0600 hrs today, a team of paramedics were called to attend an elderly female. With the patient’s driveway being fully ‘snowed in’, one of our superintendents also on scene, started shoveling snow to facilitate the crew’s egress with their stretcher. Noticing this, a snow removal company employee approached the driveway and gestured that he would ‘clear the path’. Thank you once again, to the Active Snow employee for your outstanding assistance!

Remember the following tips issued by the Canadian Heart Association can help keep you safer when you set out to shovel:

  •  Warm up. Warm your muscles before heading out to shovel by doing some light movements, such as bending side to side or walking in place.

  •  Push rather than lift. Pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting can help reduce the strain on your body. When lifting snow, bend your knees and use your legs when possible.

  •  Choose your shovel wisely. Ergonomically designed shovels can help reduce the amount of bending you have to do.

  •  Lighten your load. Consider using a lighter-weight plastic shovel instead of a metal one to help decrease the weight being lifted.

  •  Hit the pause button. Pace yourself and be sure to take frequent breaks. Consider taking a break after 20 to 30 minutes of shoveling, especially when the snow is wet.

  •  Consider multiple trips. Consider shoveling periodically throughout the storm to avoid having to move large amounts of snow at once.

  •  Keep up with snowfall. Try to shovel snow shortly after it falls. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become. Wet snow is heavier and harder to move.

  •  Wear layers. Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature.

  •  Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while shoveling.

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