Chatham EMS gears up for St. Patrick's Day with a few changes this year

    20 ambulances and four ATV crews will be on duty over St. Patrick's Day weekend (Briana Trusty WTGS).

    Last year, Chatham EMS responded to almost 170 people needing medical assistance over St. Patrick's Day weekend. They're using some of what they learned last year to change how they approach this year's festival.

    “Preparing for this year, and every year, starts last year," said Chuck Kearns, CEO of Chatham Emergency Services.

    Each year when the city quiets down, Chatham EMS takes a look at how things went.

    “We figure out what did we do well, what could we possibly do better next year, are there opportunities to improve," said Kearns.

    One opportunity for improvement is navigation on River Street.

    “We learned several years ago not to put ambulances down on River Street. They can’t really make it through the crowd," said Kearns.

    This year, they will have four ATV crews navigating harder-to-get-through areas. A new ATV will be making its debut this year that can hold a full sized ambulance stretcher. It will be used to take patients from River Street up to Bay Street where they can be transported into an ambulance.

    Chatham EMS will have 20 ambulances on duty to handle anything that comes up.

    “We get a lot of fall down injuries and we get a lot of, believe it or not, a lot of unconsciousness calls," said Kearns. "There’s unfortunately some drug use too.”

    Chatham EMS District Chief Doug Lewis has been working St. Patrick's Day for about 20 years.

    "It’s busy, but it’s usually a pretty good time," said Lewis.

    He's seen a lot over the years and has words of wisdom for festival-goers, as well as his team.

    “Take care of each other and use some good common sense," he said. "Don’t overdo it. Go out and have a good time, but just like we expect of our crews, take care of each other, look out for each other.”

    Chatham EMS plans to have more than 200 people working this weekend.

    In addition to the 20 ambulances that will be on duty over the weekend, Chatham EMS will be debuting one more in the St. Patrick's Day Parade with a mystery design as they do each year.

    Last year's ambulance was decked out in shamrocks.

    The new ambulance will join the existing fleet after its parade debut.

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