Ambulances getting stuck in deep snow

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Several places around Sweden broke temperature records over the weekend, as unusually warm weather for March bathed the northern half of the country.

Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Torpshammar, near Sundsvall in Västernorrland, on Sunday recorded a temperature of 16.8C.

This was the highest temperature registered anywhere in the country so far this year, although Gävle and Delsbo in Gävleborg were close behind, with both recording a temperature of 16.7C. 

“It’s been warm across the country, but it’s been mostly in the middle and north of Norrland that we’ve had temperatures that are a long way above normal,” Ida Dahlström, a meteorologist with state weather forecaster SMHI, told the TT newswire.

For Delsbo 16.7C is the highest temperature recorded in March since records began in 1898. The cities of Kiruna and Umeå, and the harbour town of Örskär, where records began in 1898, 1858, and 1937 respectively, also all set new March records.

Gäddede and Frösön, both close to the Norwegian border in Jämtland, registered the warmest March day since 1945, while the nearby Storlien registered the warmest March day since 1881.

Dahlström said that cold wind would soon bring an end to the balmy temperatures, with snow expected on Tuesday in many of the central parts of Sweden currently enjoying unusual spring warmth. 

Last year, Sweden recorded the third-hottest June on record, with Stockholm seeing its hottest ever month.

“June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in my hometown Stockholm, by a large margin,” climate campaigner Greta Thunberg tweeted at the time. “The second hottest June was in 2020. The third in 2019,” she added.

“Am I sensing a pattern here? Nah, probably just another coincidence.”