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Nonprofit’s street medic teams monitor homeless for frostbite, hypothermia

<i>WLOS</i><br/>BeLoved Asheville's street medic teams were out Saturday afternoon and into the night
BeLoved Asheville's street medic teams were out Saturday afternoon and into the night

By Hannah Mackenzie

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Volunteers with BeLoved Asheville made the rounds on Saturday, ensuring members of the homeless community had supplies ahead of the weekend’s winter storm.

The nonprofit group advocates for those experiencing homelessness. Loaded down with a trunk full of portable heaters, sleeping bags, tents, gloves and more, volunteers doled out donations at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville.

Andrew Parsons, who said he has been homeless in Asheville for the last six months, said he was grateful for the supplies.

“It’s crucial; these things are vital to us,” Parsons said. “We’re just in a bad situation – bad timing.”

According to Parsons, every camp he has stayed in is now demolished – leaving him forced to roam.

“We’re having to re-set up camp, carry our stuff and try to find work or find money for the day,” Parsons said.

When the winter weather rolls in, Parsons said he doesn’t know where he will be, but he’s putting faith in his new tent.

“If [the snow] doesn’t collapse the tent, we’ll be in the tent,” he said.

Krista Shalda heads up BeLoved Asheville’s street medic team. Shalda, a registered nurse, said she will be warning people about the harsh dangers of riding out the storm on the streets.

“The greatest concern is death,” Shalda said. “If these folks are left out on the street without the proper equipment and gear and information, they might not know the warning signs and they could freeze to death.”

According to Shalda, the street medic teams will be driving across Buncombe County throughout the night Saturday into Sunday.

“We’ll be out here until we don’t find any more people that need help,” she said. “We’ve been trying to educate them about frostbite symptoms, how to be aware if they have numbness and tingling and also signs and symptoms of hypothermia. We’ll be coming back out once the snow gets started, just checking around and checking on people to see if they do need help with those symptoms. It could save a life.”

Saturday night was deemed a Code Purple night in Buncombe County, meaning emergency shelters have been activated.

The Salvation Army, located at 204 Haywood Street, is accepting women and children. The Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) shelter at 141 Hillside Street is accepting everyone. According to Reverend Scott Rogers, the shelter will be open 24/7 throughout the week.

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