First responders in the Ozarks prepare for inclement weather too
By adjusting response and prepping their vehicles
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Just like the First Alert Weather Team, emergency crews have been tracking this round of heavy snow since last week. Aaron Heaton, Assistant Chief for the Ozark Fire Protection District, says that’s when he and the agency started preparations.
“We knew it was going to be a significant event,” Heaton said. “Always in public safety, we try and be prepared well in advance, knowing that something like this is coming.”
In terms of preparing, Heaton says this is all routine they take if any inclement weather heads our way, and that starts with ensuring the vehicles are properly equipped.
“With fire fighting, water and cold weather don’t mix,” says Heaton. “The crews will drain their pumps to make sure that they don’t freeze should we need to use them for a structure fire. We prepare boot chains, so the crews don’t slip whenever they’re responding to emergency calls. They will also put extra bags of salt on the trucks should they need it to salt the driveway or walkway to a home to help the crews out a little bit more.”
In terms of responding to calls during inclement weather, Heaton says they go into critical response status.
“That determines the priority of a call based on what the dispatcher receives,” Heaton explained. “We will always respond to calls - major calls, structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, and major medical incidents. But, crews will limit our responses to routine calls like lift assists, bumps, and stubs of toes.”
In addition, Heaton explained that the crews have trained in advance to deal with situations where the weather could hinder response to any calls, like finding alternate routes to get to a response call. While Heaton said that crews are ready to respond to calls, the best advice he has for people is to stay home if they don’t need to be on the roads. Not only will that keep people safe, but it will also keep the crews safe.
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