Local News

EMS Crews Leave Medical Trash at Wreck Scenes

Posted January 1, 2007 5:25 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2007 7:06 p.m. EST

— In their rush to care for accident victims and get them to nearby hospitals, paramedics are leaving some used medical supplies along area roads.

WRAL news crews found latex gloves mixed with the litter along U.S. Highway 64 near Wendell after a fatal Christmas Day wreck and along U.S. Highway 1 in Franklin County following a November accident.

The discarded gloves present a potential biological hazard, and Skip Kirkwood, the director of Wake County Emergency Medical Services, urged people to steer clear of them and call the nearest fire department or EMS squad to clean them up if they're found.

"We always want to do the right thing, but we put taking care of sick and injured people and life and safety over getting every last bit of debris at a scene," Kirkwood said. "(Cleaning up is) not at the top (of our list), but it is a priority. We carry red biohazard bags on all of our vehicles. You'll see our people religiously pick up and dispose of materials, but sometimes things slip by. Sometimes things happen."

Emergency workers often rely on tow truck operators responding to wrecks to assist them with the clean-up.

"At night, you can't see everything with artificial light. You get light glare, and a thin rubber glove is something hard to see. But we do try to pick it up if we see anything like that," said Charles Bullock of B&B Wrecker Service, who has been clearing accident scenes for 30 years.

The state spent $16 million last year on cleaning roadside litter.