‘We will be on the way’ - How first responders stay safe while working in winter weather

With most winter storms, we'll see accidents and emergencies. And first responders have to stay safe themselves
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 3:06 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MARION AND HIAWATHA, Iowa (KCRG) - While many people were hunkered down in their homes Wednesday because of the ice, first responders were doing just the opposite.

Local Fire Departments say when responding to emergencies in weather like this, preparing ahead of time is one of the best things they can do to help get the job done.

”Be patient and we will be on the way,” said Jason Hansen, Deputy Fire Chief for the Marion Fire Department.

Icy conditions in Eastern Iowa’s latest winter storm can make travel difficult for anyone. But no matter what the roads look like, first responders have to be ready.

”We are all weather hazards, you know, responding, responding agencies. So no matter what we’re gonna, we’re going to go,” said Hiawatha Fire Chief Matt Powers.

Hiawatha Fire Chief Matt Powers said preparation is key to making sure they’re able to respond safely.

”We do kind of adjust our response a little bit. We might send a vehicle that’s 4-wheel drive first to maybe get someone there to have a little more traction. Ambulances don’t have 4-wheel drive so they don’t always have the traction then maybe a pickup truck would have,” said Powers.

Along with those adjustments, Powers said extra sand and salt are on hand and on trucks to help with the slick conditions.

Jason Hansen, Deputy Fire Chief for the Marion Fire department said it’s a coordinated effort between agencies to make sure those who need help can get it.

”We are in communications with our public service departments and what they do with salt and sand trucks and how they are maintaining the streets. So if there are areas that we need access to, we can contact them and help them assist and we also assist other agencies if we can, our Police Department or ambulance service, things like that,” said Hansen.

And first responders added they need to make sure they’re also taking care of themselves when on scene.

”Just the conditions, in general, makes it harder to do our job and then making sure that we’re remembering that it is colder out. So, changing out our gear as we need to if our gloves are wet, getting dry gloves and then just knowing that our time on scene is going to be longer than normal and just mentally kind of keeping track,” said Cera Wilkins, Hiawatha Fire/Medic.