Officials issue Independence Day warnings

By Andy Winemiller -

DOBSON — Officials are warning area residents to be safe this holiday weekend.

“There are any number of incidents we could deal with on July Fourth weekend,” said Surry County EMS Director John Shelton.

Shelton said many people will take advantage of some time off, and with more people out and about, there’s likely to be more emergencies.

“There are lots of people off (work), lots of people travelling and lots of people participating in recreational activities,” remarked Shelton.

He said more volume on the roads often leads to more traffic accidents. Folks will also be having some fun. In the past, Shelton has seen recreation-related emergencies, such as swimming injuries and ATV accidents.

People partaking in the use of alcohol and drugs then getting behind the wheel is another issue which could lead to an incident to which Shelton’s paramedics might have to respond.

Additionally, Shelton warned people need to be aware of the heat, stay hydrated and cool off when possible to avoid heat injuries.

“Of course, fireworks are always an issue,” added Shelton. “We hope people will be safe.”

Shelton said throughout the course of his decades spent with county EMS, he has treated people of all ages for injuries resulting from the misuse of fireworks.

“Nobody is naive enough to think there are no fireworks in Surry County,” said Sheriff Graham Atkinson before mentioning most fireworks are illegal.

“We want people to at least be safe and considerate of others.”

Like Shelton, Atkinson said alcohol is always a concern on Independence Day and the surrounding days.

“Make sure you’ve got plans for how you’re getting home,” Atkinson warned those who opt to have a few stiff beverages.

The sheriff also noted alcohol is not allowed at any of the Independence Day celebrations in the county, and intoxicated people aren’t allowed either.

Traffic is also an issue every year, said Atkinson. People should be cognizant of where they park, ensuring they aren’t on private property and are not blocking traffic. Those attending events need to also be patient, as traffic will be backed up following the gatherings.

Atkinson said his department will be fully staffed on the Fourth of July. Additionally, officers will be assigned to each event.

Shelton said his department will be prepared for whatever mishaps come with the holiday weekend. He has ensured EMS will be operating with a full crew for the entire weekend — seven ambulances, two quick response vehicles and a supervisor. Additional manpower will be on-call.

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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