Paramedics gear up for busy night as bitter cold sets in

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Dangerous, bitter cold weather is here, and emergency crews are on standby. FOX6's Vince Condella says we could see wind chills as low as -10 to -20 on Wednesday evening, December 11th, and a Wind Chill Advisory goes into effect as of 6:00 p.m. Wednesday and continues through 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

Paramedics with Bell Ambulance say the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk on dangerously cold days. However, they say when you're talking about wind chills of 20-below-zero, everyone is vulnerable.

"Having done this for about 13 years, you start to notice trends and I would say 10 degrees is a pretty good mark, a pretty good indicator that things are gonna get busier," EMT Chris Anderson told FOX6 News.

Anderson says the best protection from the bone-chilling cold is staying inside, but some have no choice, including the Milwaukee Public Works crew, busy replacing a storm sewer inlet on the city's south side on Wednesday.

"It`s part of the job description. We knew this when we signed up for the city so it`s more like working smart. If we get cold, then go warm up then come back out and work," Sewer Repair Crew Leader Tracy Burris said.

The ground was so cold for the Public Works crew on Wednesday that it took two to three times longer to break through the pavement.

If it is really cold, crews have to heat up the ground before drilling -- but they did not need to do that on Wednesday.

The cold also affects those who aren't on the clock. Even a simple task like walking the dog can trigger feelings of regret.

"I shouldn't be out here. I should've grabbed gloves, really. I hope it gets warmer. That's what I'm really hoping for," Jeremy Ludwig said.

Anderson says there will always be someone with something to do outdoors -- even on the coldest days. He says the challenge becomes taking care of those people while making sure the paramedics themselves stay safe.

"The thing we always have to keep on our minds is if we get injured, all that's gonna do is delay the help to the person that's been waiting," Anderson said.