Shutterstock

Researchers in the U.K. find that ambulance response times drop with the temperature.

You probably already know that crummy winter weather can be bad for your health for a number of reasons. It's flu season. Everyone's got seasonal affective disorder. You can slip and fall on a slick sidewalk, or crash your car on black ice.

But here's one winter health worry we'd never considered before: Researchers in the U.K. have found that as temperatures drop, so too do ambulance response times to your door (which might further compound your problem if you've got the flu, or SAD, or a cracked ribcage).

British researchers writing in the Emergency Medicine Journal looked at five years of ambulance-response data in the city of Birmingham. Between 2007 and 2011, they counted 794,137 emergency calls, 282,978 of them immediately life-threatening. Ambulances in the U.K. have a target of reaching 75 percent of those most dire calls within eight minutes. For several days in December of 2010 – in the midst of the coldest December in a century – ambulances in the city were averaging instead about 15 minutes per call.

Across the time period studied, the researchers concluded that with every 1 degree (Celsius) drop in air temperature, there was a 1.3 percent drop in ambulance performance, as requests for help increased and road conditions worsened. This also means, the researchers add, that we now have one more consequence to worry about with climate change that could make winter cold waves even worse.

Top image: Aaron Kohr/Shutterstock

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  2. Perspective

    Coronavirus Reveals Transit’s True Mission

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  3. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  4. Coronavirus

    The Coronavirus Class Divide in Cities

    Places like New York, Miami and Las Vegas have a higher share of the workforce in jobs with close proximity to others, putting them at greater Covid-19 risk.

  5. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

×