MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Doctors fear a cold New Year’s Eve can create big problems for party goers.

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Dr. Ryan Fey from the Hennepin County Medical Center says frostbite can strike within minutes.

“In extreme cold, you could be looking at frostbite in two to five minutes,” Fey said.

People trying to ring in the new year with a few libations can get in to big trouble if they mix it with the extreme cold.

“Whether it be the chronic inebriate or somebody who is just out having a good time, it impairs decision making,” he said.

And doctors aren’t the only ones concerned. John Elder, Minneapolis Police’s public information officer, says police will be looking for people who may get into a position where “they can’t care for themselves.”

Extra officers will be on patrol to lend a helping hand.

“People whose vehicles aren’t going to be starting, people that can’t find their vehicles, people that maybe have had more to drink than they should have,” he said.

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Police want to help keep emergency rooms free of frostbite victims.

Dr. Fey says his team of doctors at HCMC has seen a record number of frostbite patients this year.

Typically they see 25 to 30 patients a season, but they’ve seen that many just in December alone.

“They’re not dressed for the elements, they’re dressed for the celebration,” Fey said.

Open-toe shoes, strapless dresses and lack of coats or boots can lead to a trip to the ER.

In order to avoid tragedy, officials say we all have to look out for one another, especially when the temperature drops below zero.

“If you see someone who’s in need of assistance, always call 911,” Elder said.

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Officers will also be looking for drunken drivers, so plan ahead for a sober ride home.

Reg Chapman