COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Columbus residents can still expect to hear the sound of sirens during an emergency but for area first responders, getting to a crisis in the midst of the ice and snow means dealing with the same treacherous conditions that everyone is facing.
“We’re tasked with getting there at a moment’s notice and having to slow things down to make sure that we arrive on-scene safely so we can help those that are in need,” said Assistant Fire Chief Duane Hughes. “So the ice on the road is the major concern.”
Both the Columbus Police and Fire departments ranked delayed response times as the number one side effect of dealing with the icy roads.
But that isn’t stopping them.
“The businesses are closed, so we’re still looking out for people that may be breaking into places or automobiles,” said Police Chief Fred Shelton. “We’re still concerned about people at home, domestic disturbance that violent burglar alarms. ”
And both agencies have trained for it.
“We train for every scenario that we can,” said Columbus Fire Engineer Chris Carter. “Obviously, here in the South we don’t get to train for this very often.”
That includes everything from equipping the fire engines with snow chains to operating without the assistance of other agencies they normally would be.
“Fire trucks are very large,” said Assistant Fire Chief Hughes. “They’re not easily stopped and the ice on the road complicates that matter. Once we get on-scene, just walking from the truck to the homes is a challenge.”
Chief Shelton says two of their cruisers got stuck responding to an accident on Saturday.
“We had two vehicles on the bypass that got stuck when we responded to an accident on the bypass,” he said. “And consequently, we had to get a tow truck to come and get us off the bypass.”
If conditions are dangerous for them, it’s dangerous for everyone.
“Just stay at home,” said Chief Shelton. “Stay safe, stay warm.”