Volunteers Deliver Doctors to Northwest AR Hospitals in Winter Weather

ROGERS, AR (KNWA) - A group of volunteers ventured into the cold Monday to make sure Northwest Arkansas hospitals stay fully staffed.

There are no snow days at Mercy Northwest Arkansas' Emergency Room.

"People start venturing out, maybe don't see that patch of ice, and fall and hit their heads or break a bone and they're in here with us," says Registered Nurse Sarah Masterson. "Generally the extreme weather is when we see our highest numbers in the emergency department."

Nurses and doctors aren't immune to the same slick roads that shut down schools and city offices, so the "Angels on Ice" take to the icy streets. 

"We take care of the local hospitals," says Jason Winchester. "We pick up doctors, nurses, technicians, respiratory therapists, x-ray techs and make sure that they can get back and forth to the hospital."

In 2005, former Rogers Mayor Steve Womack started the program, and volunteers quickly joined the cause. Then in 2008, Winchester and his boss, Tim Janecek, took charge.

"It just kinda grew," Winchester says. "We're serving four of the hospitals in Northwest Arkansas. "We've got Northwest Medical Center in Bentonville, and Springdale, Willow Creek and here at Mercy."

He says about twenty volunteers make runs from Bella Vista to Fayetteville.

"When this kind of weather hits we're not working a whole lot," he says. "This is a way for us to stay busy and also contribute to our community." 

Masterson says the angels' efforts allow hospital staff to do the same.

"Without people here we wouldn't be able to do things as efficiently as we have been today," she says. "I think it shows a sense of community that we have here."

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