First Responders Prepare For Winter Weather

Winter weather is approaching, and there are quite a few people who put in extra time to make sure everyone stays safe. First responders and hospital systems have dedicated numerous hours planning for the possible winter weather system on Friday and Saturday.

EMS staff in Greenville County said they have been stocking up all year preparing for winter weather. Over the past few days, emergency responders started de-icing the ambulances and salting sidewalks and driveways.

Jason Walchok with Greenville County Emergency Management Services said, “Historically, we’ll run close to 400 calls for service just within those 48 hours.”

The ambulances are outfitted for winter weather. All of the response vehicles have salt and cables to put on the back tires that allow them to get through snow and ice more easily.

Emergency responders and medical staff said they see a lot of car accidents, slips and falls, and even snow or sledding accidents during winter weather.

“People don’t anticipate stepping out of the house, Walchok said. “People want to go out and see the snow, and next thing you know you have an injury.”

Walchok said EMS will come when they are called, but they warn people to stay off the roads if they don’t have to be on them. EMS workers said stranded cars make it harder for them to navigate roads, on top of places that are already more difficult to get to such as rural areas.

“We use special vehicles and rely heavily on the fire departments for extrication and maybe moving patients down to a safer area,” Walchok said.

He also said response times could be a bit slower on Friday and Saturday if the roads are extremely treacherous.

However, EMS works closely with the hospitals and law enforcement to make sure there are no problems. The three agencies practice frequently for every possible scenario.

The hospitals have back up generators, places for their employees to stay overnight, tons of salt to keep the parking lots and driveways clear and a worse case scenario plan.

“As far as supplies, equipment, food, pharmaceuticals, we keep that in stock enough to supply 96 hours worth without any outside support,” said Lance Evans, GHS’s Emergency Management Coordinator.

If people absolutely have to be out tomorrow and an ambulance is trying to pass, remember to pull as far to the right as possible without running off the road and come to a stop. Emergency responders are also warning people to get any medicines they may need as soon as possible and to check their prescriptions.

Greenville police said most of their cars are four wheel drive, so they can navigate the roads safely. The department is also planning on bringing in extra officers and having even more on stand-by.

Also, if people have to abandon their car, law enforcement and EMS said people need to make sure the vehicle is tagged, so they will know nobody is trapped inside.

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