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Edmonton crisis team ‘extremely busy’ during dangerous cold snap

WATCH: Edmonton's crisis diversion team has been working non-stop this week, helping those on the streets stay warm and stay alive during the extreme cold snap. Kim Smith went on a ride-along with the team on Saturday.

When the temperatures drop, shelters and crisis workers in Edmonton are working around the clock to ensure no one is left out in the cold.

The 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team typically has two vans on the road at one time, providing rides to some of Edmonton’s most vulnerable people.

READ MORE: Edmonton dips below -30 C for 1st time in 2017

“People that are homeless, people that have disabilities, people that need medical attention,” said Curtis Cardinal, one of the members of the team.

“It’s been really busy. It’s been so busy sometimes the phone just won’t stop ringing.”

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Since Oct. 2015, the team has responded to 20,404 crisis diversion contacts.

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In November, the team had 1,178 crisis diversion contacts. The numbers for December have not yet been released, but they are expected to be high.

READ MORE: Edmonton LRT station set to open as ‘last resort’ shelter from the cold

“We’re constantly driving from one side of the city to the other. It’s a really tough job,” Cardinal said.

The bulk of the calls the team receives is because people are sleeping in private buildings, such as malls, apartment buildings, stairwells or banks.

“We got a call from mall security about some individuals who overstayed their welcome at the [Meadowlark] mall,” said Michael Kenny, on a ride-along with Global News on Saturday. “But they didn’t want to kick them out because of the cold and they didn’t have a home to go to.”

Kenny estimates that since the cold snap began, their one van has been responding to about 30 calls a day, which is double their typical call volume.

If you see someone in distress, you can help before police or emergency services are needed by calling 211 and pressing 3 to dispatch the 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team.

The temperature was -30 C in Edmonton on Saturday.

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