‘Bring in 2020’: Workers ring in New Year ready to respond to emergencies

MADISON, Wis. -As the countdown to midnight approaches, some will be spending the turn of the decade working in case celebrations get out of hand.

“We do see a lot of alcohol-related injuries from intoxication, then from all the accidents that can come from that, too,” said Dr. Kyle Martin, a medical director at SSM Health’s emergency room.

Martin said the ER had already been busy the day of New Year’s Eve, with more people coming in with influenza or from accidents slipping on ice. On the night itself, he estimates it gets about 20 percent busier than average.

“You probably can imagine what it would look like. It does sometimes fit that description. It’s crazy busy,” he said. “(We see more) firework-related injuries, ironically. You do see a lot of hand surgeons can be busy on New Year’s.”

Madison Fire Department Lt. Jon Mast doesn’t dread working overnight New Year’s Eve.

“Every day when you come into work, you prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Mast said. “I don’t want to say (New Year’s Eve) is low key, but it’s pretty normal. We don’t have most of the UW students. College students are out of town, home on break, so some of the downtown bars are less crowded.”

Mast said another factor is that bars stay open past their usual close time, so partygoers trickle out rather than exit at the same time.

He said others can make his job easier and keep themselves safe by avoiding drinking and driving, adding that walkers should be careful, too.

“Inebriated walking can be a problem, too,” Mast said. “Not good things can happen to your body if you pass out in 28 degree weather.”

Martin said the ER does see a lot of pedestrian vs. car accidents.

“A lot do involve alcohol,” he said. “It’s sad. Those are some of the worst traumas we see.”

Over the years, Martin said he hasn’t minded working New Year’s Eves.

“The ER is a great team to be a part of,” he said. “That’s one of the things that draws people (to work in) the ER in general and to work through that shift on New Year’s Eve.”

At Fire Station #1, Mast will be working until 7 a.m. New Year’s Day and may miss the rollover to the new decade altogether.

“A lot of times you’re out on a call and you leave at 11:50 and come back, it’s 12:15 and all the confetti has went off and fireworks went off,” he said. “It’s part of our job.”

It’s a job he’s happy to do.

“Bring in 2020, here we go,” Mast said.