It happened so quickly Jim Coleman couldn’t believe it: a nasty fall on an icy sidewalk last Wednesday night while walking home from a Calgary supermarket.
“All I remember is my feet going up the air and landing on my head,” Coleman told Global News. “I felt the crunch, there was blood flowing down the sidewalk. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m really messed up.'”
A man driving by immediately pulled over and jumped out to help, Coleman said, adding he believes the man said he was an off-duty paramedic.
“He knew what to do. He put a blanket under my head,” Coleman said. “It was amazing. I feel on some level he might’ve saved my life.”
Paramedics soon arrived and took him to hospital, where he spent the night being treated for a mild concussion.
“I’ve got six staples in the back of my head,” Coleman said.
Calgary’s chinook weather conditions — which bring rapid changes in temperature — contribute to the iciness of city sidewalks, according to officials.
“These calls are very frequent with this type of weather,” EMS spokesman Adam Loria said. “The melting, the thaw during the day and then the subzero temperatures at night.”
Loria has some advice on how pedestrians can avoid falling on the ice.
“It’s kind of funny: we advocate walking like a penguin,” Loria said. “Bending your knees, trying to keep your back straight if possible, and just lowering your centre of gravity, arms out. Penguins live on ice. They don’t fall very often.”
Coleman said he’s grateful for the medical attention he received.
“Everyone from the time I fell — paramedics, the nurses in the hospital, the trauma surgeon — they did an amazing job,” Coleman said. “And I’m just so thankful.”
According to the city, Calgarians’ complaints about wintry road conditions is topping the list of calls to 311.
There were almost 46,000 complaints about snow and ice on city roads and sidewalks in 2018 — close to double the 24,000 the city received in 2017.
City officials say 2018 was a tough year and was the eighth snowiest winter on record for Calgary.