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Original Research

Open Access

Impact on the Regional Ambulance Services and Emergency Departments of the 2017 Freezing Rain in Milan

  • Giovanni Landoni1
  • Omar Saleh1
  • Maurizio Migliori2
  • Carlo Picco2

1Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy

2Azienda Regionale Emergenza Urgenza, Via Alfredo Campanini 6, 20124 Milan, Italy

DOI: 10.22514/sv.2020.16.0010 Vol.16,Issue 1,June 2020 pp.73-77

Published: 30 June 2020

*Corresponding Author(s): Giovanni Landoni E-mail:


Background: Freezing rain, also known as gelicidium, glaze, or ice storm, is an unpredictable and rare meteorological event with an impact on millions of citizens and which can affect the healthcare system of large areas. It occurs if rain hits the ground when surface temperatures are below 0 ◦C. Objective: To report what occurred on January 13th 2017 in Lombardy, a northern Italy region with Milan as capital, when a freezing rain caused an overload of the emergency system. Methods: We obtained data on emergency vehicles calls and missions from the emergency reports (four Lombardy areas covered by Azienda Regionale Emergenza e Urgenza-AREU-and encompassing 117 emergency departments). Emergency examinations data included overall visits, diagnosis, severity degrees and workload of emergency departments. Results: The Milan area emergency calls had an increase unseen in the previous four years of service (from 1369 to 2700 p < 0.001). A total of 1913 trauma cases were managed versus a daily average of 484 during January 2017 (p < 0.001). Road accidents and injuries at work increased while non–traumatic causes did not. More than 70%of the 38 emergency departments in the Metropolitan Area around the city of Milan were overloaded. Conclusion: We presented the first European report on the impact of an ice storm on a healthcare system, suggesting that early recognition, communication between meteorologists and health authorities, and an alert of ambulance services and healthcare professionals (orthopaedics above all) is mandatory, jointly with warnings to the population by public authorities.


Freezing rain, Glaze, Ice storm, Emergency medical service, Ambulance service, Emergency department

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Giovanni Landoni,Omar Saleh,Maurizio Migliori,Carlo Picco. Impact on the Regional Ambulance Services and Emergency Departments of the 2017 Freezing Rain in Milan. Signa Vitae. 2020. 16(1);73-77.


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