Area constabulary, EMS report quiet Christmas

Keith Strange Staff Reporter

December 27, 2013

Area law enforcement and emergency services say they are thankful for what they call a “routine, and fairly quiet,” Christmas this year.

According to Emergency Services Director John Shelton, the period leading up to the holiday was a bit more hectic than usual, with multiple serious accidents on county roads, but the holiday itself was rather slow.

“Right before Christmas, we were really busy due to the bad weather, but on Christmas day we only had a few medical runs,” he said Thursday. “Fortunately, we didn’t have a lot of accidents.”

Shelton said county EMS personnel did have to deal with several overdose cases as a result of the consumption of prescription drugs, however, he noted that it is nothing out of the ordinary.

“Unfortunately, those are quite routine these days,” he said. “We run a lot of prescription drug overdose calls throughout the year, and this year’s Christmas holidays were about the same.”

But he noted that this year county emergency services personnel were spared some of the more serious incidents.

“The majority of the things we ran were medical calls and the prescription drug cases, and fortunately there were no shootings or stabbings on Christmas as sometimes happens, so we were lucky with that this year.”

Shelton’s sentiment was shared by both Mount Airy Police Captain Richard Lowe and Sheriff Graham Atkinson.

“Actually, it was really quiet this year in the city,” Lowe said. “We didn’t have anything out of the ordinary.”

Over Christmas Eve and Christmas day, Lowe said city police responded to four domestic calls, but there were no arrests.

“There was one minor accident, but it didn’t result in serious injury,” he added.

Lowe said this year city law enforcement was “really fortunate.”

“It fluctuates from year to year,” he said. “I’ve been here for 27 years, and I’ve seen some holidays where you run very few calls, but unfortunately we’ve had a couple of really bad incidents throughout the years during the Christmas season. I think the majority of the time it’s quiet, but it seems like when something goes wrong it can go very wrong very quickly because emotions are so high during the Christmas season.”

Atkinson said county law enforcement was also spared some of the more serious incidents.

“We had the typical things you’d expect over the holidays,” he said. “Christmas Eve night, we had some issues that resulted from families who live apart getting together and that resulted in some disputes, but that’s been very common during the Christmas season since I’ve been with the sheriff’s office.”

According to the sheriff, law enforcement also responded to some child custody issues that he described as “someone failing to follow up on a court-ordered agreement.”

“We got them resolved as best we could, and other than that both night and day shifts were fairly quiet this year,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean his department isn’t getting ready for the often-raucous upcoming holiday.

“Things are peaceful now, and we’re just hunkering down and waiting for New Year’s Eve,” he said with a laugh.

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.