Weather / Health staff kept busy amid rise in ice and snow accidents

Sledging at the Knab on sunny Sunday, 7 February. Photo by John Kelsey.

NHS Shetland is experiencing a rise in the number of people seeking help for injuries sustained as a result of accidents on the snow and ice – with plenty of broken bones and sprains.

Senior charge nurse in the Gilbert Bain Hospital’s A&E Aimee Sutherland said over 40 people have come forward with ice/snow related injuries since the cold spell began.


This has included some sledging incidents, and people falling on ice. While the health board has been kept busy, so has the ambulance service.

“It’s an increase on previous years due to the prolonged cold spell we have been experiencing,” Sutherland said.

“Also, due to current Covid restrictions there are possibly more people not working and also most children are not in school giving opportunities and time to enjoy outdoor activities.”

The Gilbert Bain Hospital.

Shetland has been experiencing a lengthy cold spell with little or no wind that has led to snow laying, and plenty of ice forming.


She said broken bones, strains and sprains and head injuries due to slips on ice have been the most common accidents, as well as sledging incidents.

There have been a small number of incidents which have required surgery and transfer to the mainland.

NHS Shetland has also been encouraging people to ‘walk like a penguin’ in an effort to reduce the chance of slips.

“This involves leaning your body forward to ensure that your weight rests on your front leg,” Sutherland said.

“This helps to keep balance, as more falls are caused on ice when the body weight is split evenly, as per a normal walk.”


The nurse said that the busy council gritters are doing a “marvellous jobs on both roads and footpaths”.

Earlier this week Shetland Islands Council said that a winter’s worth of salt has been used since Christmas, with gritters covering tens of thousands of miles.

Sutherland, meanwhile, reminded folk – including adults – to be aware of their surroundings when out sledging.

Sales of sledges in Shetland have snowballed in recent weeks, with Harry’s Department Store and Thulecraft both regularly selling out.

“Sledging is great fun for both adults and children and we certainly don’t want to stop people enjoying themselves,” Sutherland said.

“However, people just need to be aware of their surroundings when sledging and any potential hazards – the speed that can be gathered when sledging and, also, that a lot of snow if now compacted into ice. So have fun, but be safe.”