GP: Not every slip or fall on the ice requires a trip to the emergency room

Slippery streets in Tallinn on February 10, 2022.
Slippery streets in Tallinn on February 10, 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The recent spell of freezing rain has made many of Estonia's roads and sidewalks extremely slippery. All road users are advised to exercise additional caution when traveling to avoid accidents and injuries. However, pedestrians who do fall, should not necessarily rush to the emergency room immediately.

"Monday's forecasts for freezing rain unfortunately turned out to be true, and it has indeed been falling all across Estonia. The five o'clock forecast showed that the situation is worst in Pärnu County and Viljandi County, where it is very, very slippery indeed," said Andres Piibeleht, head of the Transport Administration's (Transpordiamet) infrastructure, construction and maintenance department.

According to Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center), freezing rain inevitably makes conditions on the street more challenging for pedestrians, as the constantly re-forming layers of ice, covers over the stone chippings, which have been spread on the ground to reduce slipperiness. Although the capital's sidewalks are not especially slippery at the moment, Svet said, preparations are in place to ensure things do not get worse.

"Maintenance of some sidewalks, crosswalks and public transport stops has become twice as intensive. This means that a new layer of stone chippings will also be able to form faster. The other change is, the stone chipping containers that we have placed at public transport stops, as well as the more intense monitoring (of the situation) that we are carrying out," said Svet.

Raivo Rohtla, a GP at East Tallinn Central Hospital's Center of Emergency Medicine (EMO) said, that the most common injuries which occur as a result of pedestrians falling on the ice, are those affecting the ankles and wrists.

Rohtla said, that there is not always a need to go to the EMO immediately, and that often, minor injuries can be treated at home first by taking painkillers and applying cold compresses.

"Most of the time, these injuries are not the kind that mean people need to rush to the emergency unit," said Rohtla. The GP pointed out, however, that in cases where people are unable to walk due to their injuries, or appear to have sustained significant damage to their bones as a result of falling, they should come to the emergency center.

"In those cases, you should definitely come, but otherwise, if nothing appears to be very wrong externally, it is (probably) not so urgent, so you can time your arrival at the EMO a bit more," said Rohtla.

Although road conditions could get worse on Tuesday evening, the situation is expected to improve slightly on Wednesday as temperatures increase slightly.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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