OGDEN -- For some local children, slips and falls on ice are an opportunity, not a problem. In Northern Utah's freezing rain glaze, kids are ice-skating their way through this week of wild weather.
"We ice-skated on the driveway today," said 10-year-old Madelyn Murdock. Madelyn, her sister Charlotte and brother Riggs said the drive to and from school was a little scary, but once they got home, they took advantage of their own personal ice rink.
Adults in the Top of Utah weren't having as much fun, however. Not only were dispatchers busy calling ambulances out to the scene of an accident, they were dealing with their own.
One Centerville dispatcher said, on top of an unusual number of calls, the ambulances were actually getting stuck as well. In addition, emergency rooms were seeing double the number of injuries than usual because of the slick roads and sidewalks.
Leslie Christiansen, emergency room director at Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, said the emergency room was at full capacity and staff was forced to use other areas of the hospital to treat people because of the steady stream of patients Thursday.
"We brought in additional orthopedic surgeons to handle the additional patients," she said.
Christiansen also said the ice Thursday was responsible for an 89 percent increase in CT scans, an 85 percent increase in X-rays, a 58 percent increase in typical patient visits to the ER, 28 ambulance visits and 21 patient admissions to the hospital, making it one of the busiest days in recent history.
"We pulled in extra staff and physicians from all over the hospital (on Thursday) to handle all the patients," said Debbie Sprauge, chief nursing officer at the hospital. "By 1 p.m. (Thursday), we had hit a record number of visits. We stayed busy throughout the day and night."
Kathy Calton, emergency room manager at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, said the ER typically sees 170 patients per day on average but saw more than 200 patients Thursday. Of those patients, 30 were seen for falls and at least 15 of those required hospitalization.
"Our average number of admissions to the hospital on any given day is around 25, and we admitted 43," she said.
"Another interesting thing I noticed was the patients who were coming by ambulance. Our ambulance calls average about two per hour, or around 25 a day. (On Thursday) we received more than 120 ambulance calls to the facility."
Calton said the increase started at 7:30 a.m. and continued throughout the night. At one point, the ER took 14 ambulances in an hour.
The total number of patients seen in the emergency room at Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful because of icy conditions was 103, said spokeswoman Tiffany Burnett.
"This is more than double the number of patients we see on a typical day. By opening a secondary treatment area for emergent patients and bringing in additional caregivers, we were able to move patients through promptly," she said.
"In terms of injuries, we treated a variety of orthopedic issues, lacerations and head injuries."
Janet Smith, director of emergency services at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said the emergency room was particularly busy Thursday.
"We treated an unusually high number of patients as a result of the icy conditions, even for this time of the year," she said.
"About 30 percent of our entire patient cases were related to automobile accident, slips and falls due to slippery roads and walkways."
By noon Thursday, Smith said, the hospital had more than a dozen visits from local ambulances, which is a pretty high number.
"We called in additional help during the evening shifts to make sure we had plenty of coverage. It was a crazy day for us. I would strongly urge everyone to use extra caution while this weather continues," she said.
Complicating the ice injuries is the continuing influenza-like illnesses and gastrointestinal bugs that are being spread around, Calton said.
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do where ice is concerned, health officials said, but they are encouraging everyone to be cautious and to stay home if possible until conditions improve.