First responders take measures for expected snowstorm

First responders take measures for expected snowstorm (PHOTO: KOMO News)

SEATAC, Wash. - The struggle to get around in the snow is an even bigger issue for police and firefighters since they have to brave the weather to help the rest of the community they serve.

The advice often given about not hitting the roads if people don't have to doesn't apply to such rescue crews. However, to save lives they also have to know how to minimize their own risks.

“As soon as we think there's going to be a potential for slippery conditions we begin chaining up our vehicles,” said Capt. Kyle Ohashi with the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.

Firefighters train to be ready for anything and chaining up is just one of many tools.

“Obviously we keep very close track of the weather patterns and we know, just over the years, where snow is going to accumulate,” Ohashi said.

In that way, they can somewhat predict the circumstances they might encounter with each call. While snow plows help clear main routes, plenty of side streets get passed over and first responders need to reach them all.

“It will take us a little longer to get there, especially if we have the road closures or some particularly slick areas,” said Shawneri Guzman, a public educator with South County Fire in Everett.

It’s a similar story for law enforcement officers, who are also expected to negotiate icy roads when called upon.

AMR, the private ambulance company, is also making changes in case a large snowstorm arrives. The company has ordered extra supplies, called in additional crews and it is encouraging workers to sleep at the Tukwila headquarters so they'll be ready to be dispatched at a moment's notice.

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