LRH ambulance crashes during Sioux Falls transport

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Lakes Regional Healthcare officials say three occupants in a LRH ambulance avoided serious injury after a single-vehicle crash near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Paramedics were in the process of transporting a Lakes area patient to a Sioux Falls hospital when the ambulance left the roadway at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
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Lakes Regional Healthcare officials say three occupants in a LRH ambulance avoided serious injury after a single-vehicle crash near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Paramedics were in the process of transporting a Lakes area patient to a Sioux Falls hospital when the ambulance left the roadway at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Sgt. Terry Anderson with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said the accident happened along 271st Street less than 2 miles east of South Dakota Highway 11 on the southeast side of Sioux Falls.

"For whatever reason, the ambulance left the roadway," Anderson said. "It basically went through the ditch into backyards of three residences that abut up against the highway, traveled through the backyards, struck a ground transformer utility box basically ran that over continued a few more feet and it stopped back on the shoulder of 271st Street."

The paramedic in the driver's seat sustained minor injuries. Both the driver and the second paramedic were seen and released by medical staff in Sioux Falls. The patient was transferred to the Sioux Falls hospital as originally planned, according to Jennifer Gustafson, the vice president of marketing at Lakes Regional Healthcare.

"The patient was completely unharmed in it," she said.

The paramedics spent the late afternoon hours collecting medical equipment from the ambulance before returning to Spirit Lake.

"They're wanting to get all of the stuff out of it that they can, so they can still use as much of it as possible," Gustafson said.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is conducting the crash investigation. Lincoln County deputies were on hand as initial responders and assisted with traffic control.

"I'm pretty sure the ambulance was totaled," Anderson said. "That power box they ran over was probably 2 feet by 3 feet and 2 feet high. It weighs approximately 500 to 600 pounds, according to the utility company. The undercarriage and front were completely destroyed the hood, the grill and the bumper."

The utility company told Anderson the transformer box is charged with 7,200 volts.

"If those wires had contacted the bottom of that ambulance, that would have been catastrophic," he said.

Lakes Regional Healthcare deploys five ambulances to service the Iowa Great Lakes Region. Three are located in Spirit Lake and are available for transport to regional medical centers in Rochester, Minnesota; Sioux Falls or Sioux City.

"We have a back-up crew of paramedics who use the other ambulances (in Spirit Lake) as well," Gustafson said. "Then we have two other ambulances. One is kept in Lake Park and one is kept in Terril. Those are for the local first responders."

LRH officials are working with the hospital's insurance provider to get a damage estimate from Thursday's crash.

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