Clinical manager Sarah Fleck at Turning Point’s overdose prevention site checks first aid supplies for clients with frostbite, in a Jan. 13, 2020 story. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Frostbite a concern in Red Deer

Turning Point in need of footwear and gloves

Staff at Turning Point’s overdose prevention site worry more clients will suffer severe frostbite, or worse, as the temperature continues to plummet.

Clinical manager Sarah Fleck said helping clients stay alive is the goal over the next few days. In the past week, staff have seen at least 10 cases of frostbite to hands and feet, with some people experiencing significant injuries.

“We haven’t even hit the coldest weather. It’s scary for us and it’s scary for our clients. We’re encouraging them to access shelter whereever they can and to hunker down and try not to fall asleep outside because they may not wake up,” Fleck said.

She said nurses at the overdose prevention site and Turning Point’s main office have been providing wound care and education on how to manage frostbite.

“I think it’s good that they’re trying to access some care from us. A lot of our clients are unwilling to go to the hospital so we try to address it as effectively as we can here before utilizing that.”

She said once skin has been damaged by frostbite, it’s important to stay indoors, but for people who may not be able to access shelter for whatever reason, maybe due to their personality, it is very difficult for them.

“It’s really unfortunate that there’s just not enough capacity in Red Deer to manage all the people, and all the personalities, and all the complex needs that everybody has.”

Fleck said everyone is struggling to stay warm, but if people have extra footwear, socks, mittens or gloves to donate, they could be dropped off at Turning Point’s main office, at 4611 50th Ave.

“That would be greatly appreciated for the people who are living outside and are trying their best to survive this coming week,” Fleck said.

Related:

Extreme cold warning continues in Red Deer region

‘I fell, I cried:’ Asylum seeker suffers severe frostbite after crossing border

Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning that includes a risk of frostbite in Red Deer area for the next few days.

Alex Campbell, EMS public education officer with Alberta Health Services, said in past years emergency medical services personnel in the province have encountered patients suffering third-degree frostbite with limbs that were totally frozen.

People with second-degree frostbite will often have blisters like burn victims.

He said first-degree frostbite causes skin to be white and waxy that will become painful and red as it warms. Skin should be warmed up passively, and if pain is not relieved with regular painkillers, they should seek medical attention.

He said the tip of the nose, earlobes and fingers are particularly susceptible.

“Frostbite is always going to be a challenge for people whenever we have this cold weather. Any cold, exposed skin is susceptible to frostbite,” Campbell said.

He recommended people dress in layers, stay hydrated to help regulate body temperature, and always travel with a full set of cold weather gear, like ski pants, in vehicles.

“Wherever you’re travelling by vehicle, you should be prepared to walk to get assistance if you become stuck or have a breakdown.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Alberta Health Services Central Zone

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Who is at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19? Firefighters, drivers, pharmacists, cooks

Central Alberta firefighter says virus taking toll on mental health

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Federal share is approaching $750 million annually, up from $618 million in 2012-13

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

N.S. fire crews continue battling ‘out-of-control’ Porters Lake blaze

Word of the fire first emerged early Saturday afternoon

Technology, representation butt heads amid debate over resuming Parliament

The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim makes its way through Halifax

The 35-year-old military public affairs officer and Halifax native died in the crash

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada as of May 23

There are 83,621 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim to make its way through Halifax today

The military public affairs officer died in the Snowbirds Tutor jet crash in B.C. last Sunday

Employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

Only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, survey finds

Liberals table proposal for expanded Commons COVID-19 meetings, summer sittings

OTTAWA — The Liberals have tabled a proposal that would see expanded… Continue reading

Most Read