LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – For Oktoberfest weekend, Tri-State ambulance increased staff 35 percent to make sure they were able to handle the high volume of calls.
Tri-State Shift Supervisor Nick Eastman rushes to emergency calls every day. On Oktoberfest weekend, about one-and-a-half times as many.
"A majority of the calls that we see on Oktoberfest weekend are alcohol related, and it can be anywhere from injuries in a fight to falls," Eastman said.
Saturday night he responded to a call where a person fell 10 to 12 feet off a roof.
But Oktoberfest means there's more people on the street. So ambulances don't always run their lights and sirens.
"It can attract people we don't necessarily want to crowd around us," Eastman said.
To steer through that crowd, Tri-State Ambulance also enlists bike teams. They can sometimes treat a patient before an ambulance can get through.
"The streets being closed down, it's really nice having the bikes to access a lot of areas our trucks aren't able to get to," said Kelsey Esser, bike team coordinator.
She said two bikes carry almost the same amount of equipment an ambulance does to treat a patient in the first 10 to 15 minutes.
Tri-State said all bike team calls Friday and Saturday were alcohol related.
"Lots of drinking, which comes with lots of courage, which comes with lots of things people wouldn't normally do," Esser said.
Since many roads are closed Oktoberfest weekend, Tri-State stations ambulances throughout the area. So if there's traffic backup, paramedics can respond to calls as quickly as possible.
During peak Oktoberfest hours, Tri-State staff said they had eight ambulances in circulation, two bike teams and three paramedic supervisors on duty.
There were 71 ambulance requests from Friday night to Sunday morning; down from 75 requests in 2012, according to Tri-State.
Call volume was 15 percent higher than an average weekend.
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