FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The latest snow storm did not cause nearly a fraction of the car accidents experienced at the end of January, but many more injuries were reported from people slipping and falling and sledding.
Most residents stayed home during this snow storm with only a small number of power outages reported.
From 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11 through 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, when the winter weather warning was lifted, the Forsyth County 911 Center handled 793 calls for service, including police-initiated calls.
Three weeks ago, beginning Jan. 28 through Jan. 29, when the county experienced its first significant winter snow, there were close to 1,000 calls to 911 during that two-day period.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the Forsyth County Fire Department responded to four unrelated sledding incidents.
For Sawnee EMC, there were 24 outages, affecting 3,838 consumers in a seven-county span that includes Forsyth County.
“Our longest outage was approximately an hour, most were 20 minutes or less,” said Cindy Badgett, a Sawnee EMC spokeswoman. “We were able to accomplish this because we had crews strategically placed throughout our service area ready to act as soon as an outage occurred. Trees on the lines were the main cause of the outages.”
The fire department responded to four separate and unrelated sledding accidents throughout the county, each with injuries and all within a three-hour time span.
“School was out and many people were venturing out to enjoy the day,” said Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers.
The first incident was the most significant and serious. It happened about 2:30 p.m. at Liberty Middle School grounds off Wallace Tatum Road in north Forsyth.
Although school was not in session, a group of teenagers decided to enjoy their day.
“Unfortunately, it turned tragic,” Shivers said.
A 17-year-old man lost control of his sled and crashed into a fire hydrant. The man sustained serious injuries to his upper body and upper torso.
“When we arrived on scene he was unconscious and had sustained very serious injuries,” Shivers said. The unidentified man was transported in critical condition to Northside Hospital-Forsyth.
Within an hour, another 17-year old man was injured from a sledding accident at another location.
Twelve minutes later, emergency responders were dispatched to a 9-year-old male in a sledding accident with injuries.
About 5 p.m., a 21-year-old man was injured during a sledding accident, too.
“The last three were not as serious as the first, but all resulted in injuries and were transported to Northside Hospital,” Shivers said.
“Should we have more winter weather, we encourage the children to get out and enjoy the day, enjoy being out of school,” he said. “The snow days in Georgia are so rare and it’s something they don’t get to experience often, but please do so with responsibility and some common sense.
“Watch for objects that could be a strike hazard and don’t sled near them.”
Shivers said in one of the incidents the injury was due to being pulled by an all-terrain-vehicle.
The momentum and hazards involved are increased because the rope could break and a person could slide in the roadway.
“Go out and sled and have a good time, but do not be pulled by a motorized vehicle,” Shivers said.
“Let gravity be your friend and do so in a responsible area with some smart decision making.”
Shivers said the call volume during this storm was typical.
“Surprisingly, very few motor vehicle accidents because once people get home, they typically stay home,” he said.
In the 48 hour period from 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 through 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, there were
52 incidents, including 36 medical emergencies, three power line downs and one motor vehicle accident. This is less than a typical 48-hour day for emergency responders, but still there were plenty of serious slip and fall accidents due to snow.
Shivers said overall, county emergency personnel were well prepared, with emergency management watching the storm days in advance and the emergency center operational days ahead.
“We act in a proactive way,” Shiver said. “We watch the weather, trends and are aware.
“Our community here is a smart community,” he said. “The residents know to get off the roads and stay off the roads when these events happen.”
Jodi Gardner, a spokeswoman for Forsyth Count said the county's five sand/salt trucks (four of which are outfitted with snow plows) and three motor graders with blades to scrape the roads were significantly used.
“Forsyth County's Roads and Bridges personnel remained very busy throughout this weather event,” Gardner said.
Georgia Department of Transportation district engineer Bayne Smith said by staying off state routes and interstates, motorists gave GDOT room to work in the travel lanes.
“We were able to remove winter precipitation and treat the roadways more efficiently,” Smith said.