North Dakota’s non-stop oil boom has made lots of people rich. Some ranchers are millionaires, a few oil bosses are billionaires and lots of working people have more money in their pockets than they used to.
But those riches haven’t come without a cost.
As the boom exploded with drilling rigs, frac crews, and oilfield workers of every kind, the number of on-the-job deaths has jumped to record highs. Traumatic injuries on roads and job sites have also skyrocketed.
Here’s one example: Trauma admissions at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson have increased from 81 five years ago to 208 last year. Some of those patients arrive via ambulance from Killdeer, a boom town north of Dickinson.
In the first of a four-part series on injuries and deaths in the oil patch, Black Gold Boom reporter Todd Melby spent a day with the Killdeer ambulance crew.