Calgary

Calgary received more than 1,600 calls this week about icy sidewalks

Wild temperature swings this week have left Calgary's pathways and roads an icy mess, and the city says it's received hundreds of calls about snow and ice concerns on sidewalks.

There were 57 reports of people slipping, falling

Calgary's heavy February snowfalls, paired with Chinook winds, have created icy sidewalk conditions. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Wild temperature swings this week have left Calgary's pathways and roads an icy mess, and the city says it's received hundreds of calls about snow and ice concerns on sidewalks.

The city received 1,669 reports of snow and ice issues on sidewalks between Feb. 9 and 16 — up from 1,269 during the same period last year. 

Of those complaints, there were 57 reports of people slipping, falling and being injured.

"People are leaving the house without knowing what's going on outside and a lot of these falls are happening within just a few metres of their home,"  said Dr. Eddy Lang, head of emergency medicine in Calgary.

"They're getting to that icy patch that's camouflaged by snow on their walkway and they're falling quite significantly on a hard surface."

Nate Pike of Calgary EMS said he's responded to a number of calls since Wednesday. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

He said doctors have seen severe multiple-bone fractures on wrists and ankles, and plenty of shoulder injuries due to falls.

Emergency rooms see a similar uptick every time Calgary gets a Chinook wind after a heavy snowfall.

Paramedic Nate Pike said often, the calls are related to people not taking proper precautions. 

"Most of the falls that we've seen that have been falls directly related to people either not wearing appropriate footwear or rushing a little bit," he said. 

Lang said on March 16, 2017, there were 200 fractures in emergency rooms across Calgary — compared to a normal day, which would usually only see about 40 fractures.

"The one from March last year was essentially a mass casualty incident, 200 broken bones is like three or four buses going into a ditch. We're not seeing anything nearly as severe so far this winter, but certainly we are seeing a few more cases, we can certainly handle it," he said.

Dog walker Carly Banman wears grippers on her boots to deal with the icy pathways. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

"It's been a little bit slippery," said dog walker Carly Banman, who's a professional at dealing with slippery sidewalks.

"We put our grippers on, we take our time and we just know what to watch for and out we're out here every day so, we're maybe a little bit more cautious," she said.

Calgary is reminding property owners that they're responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear of both snow and ice — both have to be removed within 24 hours.

If the ice can't be chipped away, the city offers a free sand-salt mixture to help break it down and give pedestrians some traction. The mix is available at certain fire stations around the city — a list of locations is available on the city's website

With files from Dave Gilson

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