Updates on how region dealing with snowstorm

February 05, 2010|By Baltimore Sun staff

National Guard Humvees aid city police, medics

Updated at 7:23 p.m.: Baltimore residents, don't think that police enforcement will stop just because a major snowstorm is under way.

Federal and state officials have collaborated to equip Baltimore with 10 National Guard Humvees.

Two of the Humvees are ambulances and will have paramedics on board, said Capt. Roman Clark, a Baltimore Fire spokesman.

The other vehicles will "shuttle manpower around" from police districts, said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III at a news conference with Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake at the Oldtown fire station Friday evening.

Officers will then be deployed on foot, he said.

"We want people to be safe and enjoy the snowfall from their living room," he said.

"The storm won't deter our efforts," Bealefeld added later.

Rawlings-Blake agreed. "We don't want to take any chances," she said.

By Liz Kay

City health department fine-tunes emergency plans

Updated at 4:53 p.m.: For patients who need life-sustaining treatment such as dialysis, the snowstorm threatens to get between them and their care.

The Baltimore health department was fine-tuning emergency plans Friday to shuttle dialysis patients between their homes and treatment centers over the weekend. The department covers transportation for patients on medical assistance, as required by federal law. The safety-net program also offers transportation to patients who need chemotherapy and radiation. But among the most logistically challenging for the department are those patients who need three-times-a-week dialysis, said Pamela Somers, program director of field health services for the health department.

The program ferries 446 dialysis patients to and from their treatments, some of whom have a strict Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule to adhere to. The threat of a blizzard means trying to reschedule some patients, a challenge in itself, while arranging a fleet of vans to go out on snow-covered roads to transport patients who cannot change their schedule.

"It's also a huge challenge for patients," said Somers. "For folks whose times are being shifted, they need to change their diet a bit and watch their fluids. There are medications that we can give them to have them hold out an extra day."

Somers' team has been working on contingency plans since Tuesday.

"This is not something you do at 5 p.m. when the snow is starting," she said. "This is something you that you have to plan for several days, and that the patients themselves need to think about."

For her staff, the storm will mean working extra hours Saturday and Sunday, when they plan to transport about five dozen patients.

Meanwhile, Somers will be carefully monitoring the safety of van drivers. During December's record-setting blizzard, several drivers got into accidents skidding down slick roads, although there were no serious injuries, Somers said.

"I don't think enough of us gave enough weight to how bad conditions deteriorated throughout the day," she said. "This time, we're ready."

By Kelly Brewington

Hospitals put snow emergency plans in effect

Updated at 4:32 p.m.: Baltimore-area hospitals had their snow emergency plans in effect by Friday afternoon. No strangers to emergencies and periodic drills, many said they were ready for whatever the storm might throw at them.

"We have gone through this a number of times, as every hospital has -- it's a drill we have down pretty pat," said Gary Stephenson, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins Hospital. "It's something we have done before and something we will be able to do again."

Doctors and nurses came to work at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson with overnight bags and SUVs were on hand at Hopkins to ferry staff to and from the hospital, if need be.

The hospitals will be on watch for any unusual increase of emergency room visitors. Typically during bad weather, emergency rooms are less bustling and can become downright quiet as people hunker down indoors. But a severe storm can also bring a bevy of injuries.

"We anticipate things like car accidents or more likely chest pains when shoveling snow, or people slipping on ice, breaking bones and getting contusions," Stevenson said. "Hopefully, we won't see a huge number of those and people will stay home."

By Kelly Brewington

Blizzard warnings for Arundel, Calvert, St. Mary's counties

Updated at 3:50 p.m.: The National Weather Service has posted Blizzard Warnings this afternoon for Anne Arundel, Calvert and St. Mary's counties, including the city of Annapolis.

The warnings mean residents should expect falling and blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities reduced to less than a quarter-mile for a period of three hours or more. The warnings are in effect from 10 p.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Saturday. The forecast calls for snow totals of 20 to 30 inches before the storm ends Saturday night. More details.

From Frank D. Roylance's Maryland Weather blog

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