• Sweden edition
 

Ambulances getting stuck in deep snow

Published: 22 Feb 2010 14:39 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Feb 2010 14:39 GMT+01:00

Sweden's ambulances have not escaped the problems brought by heavy snow, and the switch from four-wheel-drive Volvo's to rear-wheel drive Mercedes vehicles is now under review in Borås in western Sweden, according to a Sveriges Television (SVT) report. Similar problems were also reported earlier this month by health authorities in Västernorrland in northern Sweden.

Borås, like most areas of Sweden, has received an unseasonal amount of snow this winter with little sign of a break in the clouds.

While the snow has become a familiar cause of frustration for commuters in recent weeks, the problems have now extended to emergency services.

Several health authorities around the country have recently swapped their pools of Swedish Volvo four-wheel-drive ambulances in favour of Mercedes, as the German cars were able to cope with greater loads.

The new ambulances are however rear-wheel-drive and reports have been dropping in of ambulances getting stuck in the snow, and needing the help of neighbours and passers-by to help push them free.

The new Mercedes vehicles are instead equipped with "snow-socks" which can be pulled over the wheels to help boost traction; but with the reports starting to mount, a review is set to consider the relative merits of the respective vehicles.

"We are going to put in place a group that will weigh up the pros and cons of the vehicles. It is important to point out that there are also significant advantages to this type of vehicle," said Magnus Eriksson, head of the ambulance fleet in Borås, to SVT.

In the meantime, ambulance staff are being told to take precautions.

"It is a question of being prepared for the conditions and perhaps putting the socks on before the ambulance gets stuck," Eriksson said.

Heavy weekend snowfalls have led to a slew of schools in several municipalities closing their doors on Monday due to the risk of collapsing roofs.

In Jönköping, sections of the Juneporten shopping centre have been closed due to large amounts of snow on the roof.

A recent spate of collapsed roofs could be due to checks on larger buildings being neglected in recent years, according to experts at the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

"We think that there has been a decline in safety standards and controls. That is something we have seen in recent accidents," Bo Källsner at the institute told news agency TT.

According to Björn Engström at Chalmer's University of Technology in Gothenburg, the rules are strict regarding the safety of roofs and underlined the importance of investigating every case of a collapse to determine the underlying cause.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:42 February 22, 2010 by Ingka71
"We are going to put in place a group that will weigh up the pros and cons of the vehicles. It is important to point out that there are also significant advantages to this type of vehicle," ... duhhhh you have bought vehicles who can't drive when it's snowing, that to me is a significant disadvantage, or isn't the first prerequisite of an ambulance that it can drive ? If not then it's just an expensive hospital bed, right?
16:33 February 22, 2010 by Craptastical
@Ingka71

I imagine that it's not just the capabilities in snow that they'll review. They'll probably have to review how large the cabin is, fuel efficiency, maximum load, handling capabilities in all road conditions (not just snow, those things are top heavy already).

Anyway, just as you are... I am a bit surprised that they don't have vehicles to address sever winter weather as well. Hopefully by next winter they'll prepare for the worst but hope for the best instead of the other way around.
16:39 February 22, 2010 by this_aint_sparta
The new rule according to the prevaling winter conditions is that patients might be asked to come to the place where there is less snow and they can b picked up from there or the patient might be asked to get off the vehicle and push, imagine an 80 year old GUNNILA pushing that huge yellow vehicle from rear.
16:45 February 22, 2010 by Craptastical
@this_aint_sparta

It's that protestant work ethic... or something ;-)
17:29 February 22, 2010 by Nemesis
Whichever idiots came up with the idiot to switch to two wheeldrive on ambulances should be put either in a mental insitution or a jail, or both.

Ambulances have to be able to go everywhere. Four wheel drive is needed for that.
18:11 February 22, 2010 by this_aint_sparta
@ Nemesis

You can suggest them to buy "Stridsvagn 103" tanks and they can go everywhere.
18:54 February 22, 2010 by Internuncio
Here in Scania they switched the radio system from the old proven simplex system to the new "RAKEL" thing. As no one knows how it works, which it can't anyway due to the terrain here, the ambulances can stay in the garage.
20:43 February 22, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
Snow and rear wheel drive cars - not great bed fellows. BMWs are the worse.
21:30 February 22, 2010 by GLO
OK !!!! Two Wheel Drive EMERGENCY Trans.....????????

This is just NUTS...
22:35 February 22, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Most ambalamps I see in Sweden are Chevrolet 2500 4x4 series trucks. Seems like the ideal all weather vehicle.
12:21 February 23, 2010 by wifey
@Nemesis

'Whichever idiots came up with the idiot to switch to two wheeldrive on ambulances should be put either in a mental insitution or a jail, or both.'

My thoughts exactly!!

I wonder why they just don't pull out the motorbikes now???

"We are going to put in place a group that will weigh up the pros and cons of the vehicles...said Magnus Eriksson, head of the ambulance fleet in Borås, to SVT.

Hey I'll take the job!!
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