To say that the Merrill Fire and EMS department was stretched beyond their resources Friday morning would be a huge understatement.
At 11:11, on Friday morning Lincoln County’s 911 dispatch center paged Merrill Fire & EMS for a 2 vehicle rollover accident with patients injured and entrapped in their vehicles, on Highway 51 just south of County highway H, in the town of Rock Falls.
Due to the number of vehicles and possible number of patients involved in the crash, Merrill’s command dispatched Medic #2, Medic #3 and Rescue #1 to the accident scene on 51. Merrill’s Medic 1 was already on a medic call up near Gleason and was transporting a patient to Good Samaritan at the time of the initial dispatch for the Highway 51 accident. Merrill crews went enroute at 11:12 and were notified of a second rollover just south of the initial 2 car accident. Merrill’s command personnel requested Tomahawk EMS to head south and asked for Wausau EMS to standby in the City of Merrill, as well as requesting a air standby for the nearest helicopter should the need arise.
Crews traveled north up 51 and found a snow squall line starting in the area of Lincoln Dr., just north of Merrill, road conditions had apparently deteriorated very rapidly catching motorist traveling at highway speeds off guard thus creating the chaos of rollover accidents. After arrival on scene Merrill Fire and EMS quickly assessed the patients and fortunately found only minor injuries at both crash sites. A 3rd rollover was reported a short distance to the North of the initial crash, but no injuries were reported there.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department shut down the north bound lanes for about 15 minutes while emergency crews sorted through the accidents, while working on the slippery roadway, as well as rerouted traffic to Lincoln Drive.
Wrecker crews were called to the scene and the traffic was opened back up at about 11:45.
“It was incredible that none of the patients in any of the vehicles needed medical transport after seeing the damage to the respective vehicles while pulling up with Rescue 1,” said Captain Mike Drury of the Merrill Fire Department. “It was amazing how fast road conditions changed in a couple miles. We and the people involved were lucky.”