Neighbours pay to have snow cleared after ambulance got stuck responding to serious call

Neighbours have pitched in to help make sure emergency vehicles can access their snow-covered street after an ambulance got stuck responding to a call.

Heather Rittwage wanted to make sure street was accessible to emergency vehicles

Heather Rittwage and her neighbours pooled together some money to pay to have snow removed from their street. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

Neighbours in Regina have pitched in to help make sure emergency vehicles can access their snow-covered street after an ambulance got stuck responding to a call.

A 12-year-old girl was found unconscious under snow in her backyard on Dunnison Crescent in Regina on Tuesday. She was taken to hospital but pronounced dead later Tuesday evening.

Emergency medical services in Regina confirmed that one of the two ambulances responding to the emergency call was briefly stuck on the street but that ambulance was not carrying a patient.

Heather Rittwage lives on Dunnison Crescent and heard about the ambulance getting stuck in the deep snow on her street.

"We have five kids in the home. If emergency vehicles can't get down the street, I think that's pretty scary," said Rittwage.

Rittwage and some of her neighbours pooled their money together to pay to have Southern Coring and Cutting Service Ltd. clear the snow from their street.

Snow removal on Dunnison Cres. 0:35

Emergency vehicles in snowy conditions

She doesn't know the girl's family, but it was important to her that the street be drivable in case of an emergency.

"I'm also 35 weeks pregnant. I was getting stuck every 10 feet in the street," said Rittwage.

"I didn't want to be in a situation where I was in labour and stuck in my own street and not able to get to the hospital."

Ken Luciak, director of emergency medical services for Regina, said emergency vehicle drivers make every effort to take the safest, fastest route that is the easiest to access in all weather conditions.

"However, we are subject to the same snow conditions as other drivers and sometimes experience difficulty," said Luciak.

Luciak said there was one incident during the snowstorm Wednesday night where a unit was stuck and required a tow truck and supervisor to assist.

He said every ambulance is equipped with a shovel and tow hooks, and the two supervisor vehicles have tow straps and are full-size 4x4 SUVs.

Rittwage said Southern Coring and Cutting Services Ltd. came Wednesday night and worked to clear the street for more than two hours. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

Snow safety

It's not clear what exactly happened to the girl who died Tuesday, but Rittwage said the tragedy has prompted tough conversations about snow safety in her household.

"It could easily happen, but it's not something you really think about happening," said Rittwage.

"You send your kids outside to get fresh air and go play, and it's something you feel comfortable doing. Now we really don't."

But with the snow being cleared from the street, Rittwage has some peace of mind.

"It's made our life a lot easier … we feel a lot safer, and just less stranded," said Rittwage.

About the Author

Joelle Seal

Joelle Seal is an Associate Producer in Current Affairs for CBC Saskatchewan. Get in touch with her by emailing joelle.seal@cbc.ca or on Twitter @joelleseal.