Occupy Denver: One man hospitalized after snowstorm hits the camp

Occupy Denver's social media campaign shares as many worries about the ongoing snow as do its protesters: Throughout the night, the group's Twitter account documented warnings of the inches that landed on the gathering as it slept. And though last week's first burst of white ended with five hospitalizations, last night's ended with a single man being removed from Civic Center Park for temperature-related issues.

At 1:20 a.m., Occupy Denver street medic Mel Van Nice called Emergency Medical Services to collect a homeless man from the area. The man, who only recently moved to Denver and isn't used to the weather, was reported by other occupiers to be experiencing hypothermia-like conditions, and he was shivering in clothes soaked by the snow.

"Other occupiers came up to me and told me he needed help," Van Nice says. "I walked over and assessed him, and we dragged him to the security tent, took off his cold clothes, wrapped him up in blankets and set him up next to a space heater. He had no shoes on, only socks."

The man, whose name has not been released, was greeted by an EMS vehicle 25 minutes later, though city police remain parked nearby at all hours. He is the night's only medical casualty, an improvement from last week despite the group's dearth of medical workers. Aside from weekend attendance, the protesters don't yet maintain a large enough medical team to guarantee stable shifts during the day and night.

"The snow was so heavy last night that we had a push broom and went around sweeping the snow off the tops of the tarps where people slept," Van Nice says. "We pass out Emergen-C packets and hand warmers during the cold, and we always try to ensure that we have enough tarps and warm clothing and blankets for people without them."

Most of this comes from donations, though Van Nice and many other volunteers have also used their own funds to contribute to the group's needs. Occupy Denver maintains a constant list of updates about the materials volunteers require, and this list becomes crucial prior to bouts of snow and ice.

Van Nice says they also seek out "shelters for everyone who's willing to go to one, though a lot of people choose to stay in order to maintain a 24-7 occupation. We've also have had people volunteering their homes, and we've had great sources of people who are always willing to help. We're self-reliant as a group, but it's amazing how many people have contributed and are concerned about our safety."

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: ACLU investigates constitutionality and safety of police action."

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Kelsey Whipple
Contact: Kelsey Whipple