EMTs, paramedics know dangers of potholes

Ambulance, pothole damage

Add emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to the list of folks who know the dangers of potholes.

“Potholes jar everything in the back of the truck and can hinder patient care,” said Brandee Lynn Ockwig, an EMT and volunteer firefighter from Waseca.

Driving and working full-time for an ambulance service in southern Minnesota for 12 years, she knows the perils of potholes first-hand.

“Putting something in an intravenous line or working on the patient is hard enough to do in good conditions, but when you put in the unknown – like a pothole – that’s a challenge.”

In addition to providing basic life support, such as first aid and CPR, EMTs and paramedics perform a wide range of medical procedures while transporting someone to the hospital. They often insert IVs or administer a limited list of medications, such as those used to treat pain or a severe allergic reaction or to save someone suffering a drug overdose. They can also inform the hospital of your condition before arriving at the emergency room.

On the roads, it’s difficult for ambulance drivers – seeking the quickest way possible to an emergency call — to avoid the bumps, let alone pothole-riddled roads.

An ambulance ride can be uncomfortable

According to Minnesota’s Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board, distances for ground-based ambulance services vary from 2 miles in a metro area to as many as 70 miles in northern Minnesota. The average carry distance is 20 miles statewide.

“Potholes are worse than driving on gravel roads and can come out of nowhere, especially at night,” she said.

“You learn which roads are really bad, and you try to give your partner a heads up when you have to swerve or brake, but that doesn’t make it any easier for your passenger,” she said.

It also doesn’t make it any easier on the rig itself. Many ambulances return to the station with bent rims, flat tires, and broken suspensions. It all adds to the cost of operating the ambulance service and, ultimately, your trip to the emergency room.

Four things to know about colored concrete for your next project

colored concrete | Bye Bye Potholes

Many city councils face decorating decisions when their city embarks on a downtown streetscape or similar project. One of the most common choices they make is using colored concrete to affordably jazz up plain gray concrete and public spaces.

To help cities make a good decision about colored concrete, we turned to two ARM members who are experts about this. They’ve seen city projects succeed and fail, and they know what works and doesn’t work to ensure your colored concrete looks great and lasts decades.

Here are four things they want you to know about colored concrete:

1. Choosing a color for concrete is NOT like choosing one for a bedroom wall.

The color pigment for concrete is mixed with natural elements like aggregates and portland cement. Crushed rock can range from pink, orange and tan to brown, dark green and gray. Portland cement can range from white to pinkish to dark gray. Your color is affected by those colors.

In contrast, when you choose a color for your wall, it’s consistent from gallon to gallon. It’s not like the black bristles of your brush add black to your Benjamin Moore paint.

Be sure to select your concrete color from a specific concrete color chart with specific names. Don’t refer to a paint company’s chart and names.

2.  Make sure the colored concrete comes from the same ready mix concrete plant.

If your concrete comes from different plants for a single project, you could end up with one shade of charcoal concrete at Main and 1st Streets, and another shade at Main and 3rd!

It is not unusual for a contractor to tap into a few different ready mix producers to complete a project, but you can end up with inconsistent colors (even with plain gray) when the concrete dries. One plant might use pinkish portland cement and another plant dark gray, for instance.

Using the same plant also ensures that the water-to-cement ratio is consistent from concrete batch to batch. City inspectors should make sure the contractor doesn’t add additional water at the job site because it can change the color in a single batch.

3.  Avoid reds, even though cities traditionally select it.

Red pigments interact with portland cement and aggregates in unpredictable ways due to the iron oxide that makes it red. Iron oxide also is a natural element.  The color pigment, the aggregates, the cement, the iron oxide: the mix can be like four kids squabbling for dominance of the t.v.

No other concrete color is as fussy as red. Reds can turn to rust, brick, cherry, pink, and even orange, as one city recently discovered. If you still want to choose red, use it sparingly and choose a reddish-brown, like “Marshfield,” a Scofield color.

Another reason for avoiding reds is because cities often do not seal their colored concrete every two to three years to maintain them and fussy reds, especially, don’t hold up well.

By choosing not to regularly seal your colored concrete, the new Streetscape you celebrated at your Grand Opening could look quite different by your third downtown Octoberfest event. (call-out quote)

4.  Choose contrasting colored concrete for the biggest impact and bang for your buck.

How about charcoal gray and tan with the traditional gray? The contrast can be very attractive, helpful to pedestrians and drivers, and as affordable as a single color.

Regular sealing, of course, will keep the contrast clear and bold over time.

Many thanks to ARM Associate Members Andy Pearson of SIKA®, an international chemical company, and Guy Peterson of Scofield, a division of SIKA® specializing in color pigments. They came up with these four points about colored concrete and know a great deal more.

Questions about colored concrete? Contact Guy Peterson of Scofield, who’s a walking encyclopedia about color pigments: guy.peterson@scofield.com.

How paint is like a good concrete road

One-coat painted concrete | Bye Bye Potholes

While helping a friend repaint several rooms in her house recently, I found myself comparing the paint to a good concrete road. You see, I had plenty of time to think about how picking the right product makes a difference in the end result –- whether you’re talking about a home improvement project or building a road.

At first glance, this paint project appeared daunting. My friend wanted to transform her deep brown walls with a light grey paint. We also needed to repaint her son’s red bedroom walls and the blue walls downstairs. Wherever I turned, it looked like a two-coat job to me.

“Nope,” she said. “The paint I bought is supposed to cover the old paint in one coat.” Sure enough, she was right. We managed to get the job done with one coat of paint. And given the quality of the paint she bought, I’m betting it will last a long time.

Less work and less money in the long run

Kind of like a good concrete road. She was willing to pay more for the paint on the front end, knowing that in the end, it was more cost-effective and definitely less labor intensive.

Had she picked a less expensive paint, we’d have needed at least two coats to cover the old paint. And, she’d be repainting a few years down the road.

But not this gal. She’d done her homework. She knew that the type of paint finish you pick can extend the life of the paint itself. She chose an eggshell finish.

In its Paint Buying Guide, Consumer Reports called the stain resistance of the paint she chose “impressive.” Unlike a flat finish, the eggshell finish should wash up nicely and won’t look dirty or worn out for quite some time.

Strength and durability matter – whether you’re talking about paint for your house or a road in your city. The paint we applied won’t last 50-plus years like a good concrete road, but clearly, my friend purchased paint with a sheen to last.

Next time you talk with members of your city council, ask what they’re doing to ensure that your roads are both cost-effective and built to last.


Are potholes bad for your car? They sure can be

Hitting a bump in the road is one thing, but hitting a pothole is another. Just ask your local mechanic who will be more than happy to explain why potholes are bad for your car.

Hitting a baby pothole isn’t likely to cause much damage, but the bigger ones can take a big bite out of your checkbook. Either way, if you take a hit be sure to check for damage.

5 car parts to check for damage

1. Tires are the first place to check.  You might be able to fix a flat tire, but tires with bulges and separations need to be replaced.

2. Wheels. If you hit a pothole, check to see if the wheels have been bent, chipped or cracked. You might be able to fix a bent wheel, but you won’t be so lucky if the wheels are chipped or cracked.

3. Suspension systems include your of springs, shock absorbers, tie rod, drive shafts and ball joints that connect a vehicle to its wheels. Suspensions bent out of joint can usually be realigned. Broken ball joints, struts or shocks need to be replaced.

4. Exhaust pipes run along the bottom of your car and are likely targets for pothole damages. Check your muffler and exhaust pipes for holes.

5. Body. The lower your car sits to the ground the greater the chance that hitting a pothole will cause damage to the body, especially the bumpers.

Granted, most potholes aren’t big or deep enough to damage your car. But some potholes are bad for your car and will likely cause damage to the tune of $300 or more.  And even if you have insurance you can expect some out of pocket costs.  Read more. 

Six advantages of a concrete road

Summer roadwork with its detours and traffic jams test even the most patient of drivers. But if you’re lucky enough to be slowed by the construction of a new concrete roadway, this summer’s delay should be the last you’ll experience for some time. Durability is one of the many advantages of a concrete road.

Here are six advantages of a concrete road.

1. Durability. Concrete is less prone to rutting, cracking and other common forms of road damage, including potholes. That’s right, no potholes. In fact, when you factor in annual maintenance, concrete pavement can cost four to seven times less to maintain than asphalt.

2. Life expectancy. A concrete road built today should last 40- to- 50 years compared to a new, well built, asphalt road with a life expectancy of 15-20 years. Again, that means fewer traffic delays and while it may cost more to build initially, it means lower costs over the life of the road. Read more.

3. Safety. According to the Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota (CPAM), concrete provides better and longer lasting skid resistance. It also provides better visibility on rainy nights. Both results in fewer accidents and that’s good news for all motorists.

Other advantages of a concrete road

4. Smoother, long-lasting ride. That means less fuel consumption. Statistics show that heavier trucks, running over a concrete road, consume 15-20 percent less fuel than that on asphalt roads. That’s not only cost-effective, but it’s one of the many environmentally friendly aspects of concrete.

5. Recyclable. Concrete is produced from abundantly available limestone. On the other hand, asphalt is produced from imported petroleum.

6. Aesthetics. Concrete is easier on the eyes. Its clean appearance brightens neighborhoods and downtown areas, both day and night. In addition, concrete can be colored and textured to produce attractive designs and patterns.