Icy weather lands pedestrians in the ER

by Aya Mueller

Freezing rain, frigid temperatures and unsalted sidewalks led 108 people to visit GW Hospital's emergency room Tuesday night for treatment of injuries incurred from slipping on ice.

Many students had trouble walking on slippery streets and sidewalks after a light snow turned to freezing rain Tuesday afternoon. Heather Bancroft, a spokesperson for the Hospital, said the hospital sees a string of injuries related to a particularly dangerous storm about once a year.

She said the most common injuries emergency room employees see as the result of falls include dislocated shoulders, pelvic and back fractures, and wrist and elbow injuries.

"It is impossible to say how many of (the patients we saw Tuesday) were GWU students or faculty," Bancroft said. "They were all pedestrians and came from all over."

Director of Facilities Management James Schrote is in charge of salting the campus and said it was especially difficult to prevent the sidewalks from being dangerously slippery.

"What makes this weather unusual is that temperatures were bouncing between 30 and 34 degrees until midnight," Schrote said. "It would rain and then freeze over again."

"For us it's better to have all ice or all rain," he added.

Junior Nazli Camlibel is one of many pedestrians who fell victim to the slippery sidewalks.

"I fell yesterday at 6 p.m. and saw three other people fall," she said. "Funger was all ice and you couldn't tell which parts of the sidewalks were icy (and which were not)"

To ensure campus safety, Schrote said he always has 18 people on standby and more than 60 at his disposal if he needs them. They usually start salting at the heart of campus where most people are and work their way to the edges.

Schrote added that his team is prepared for more icy weather but that it's unlikely this area will see another ice storm.

"That's just the way these things go," he said.

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