On call no matter what: No snow days for first responders

No snow days for first responders

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – While many businesses are closed because of the winter storm, there are some professions that do not get to take snow days.

First responders have to be on the job, to take care of emergencies and other business.

In his sixteen years at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Sergeant Seth Thomas has worked in all kinds of weather.

“I like the warm dry weather the most,” Thomas said.

But first responders, such as police and sheriff’s deputies must answer calls for service, regardless of the weather.

Lee County Deputies and jailers don’t get to take snow or sleet days.

“We don’t have any virtual program, whether it is covid, weather, or whatever it is, we are expected to be there to work and provide a service that is necessary,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson.

The winter weather does mean some changes.  For example, while deputies are still on duty, they may be parked at a spot in their zone, waiting to answer calls when necessary.

“Unless it is an absolute emergency, or something the deputy physically has to be there, we are trying to handle a lot of it over the phone, or through email or something of that nature,” Johnson said.

Some office staff aren’t coming in as long as county offices are closed.   Sheriff Johnson says his deputies are also helping employees with the North Mississippi Medical Center get to and from work, and there are also special arrangements for jailers who can’t drive in because of impassable county roads.

“We have a deal with a hotel here in Tupelo, we can house them and get them back and forth until they can travel, there are a lot of strategic parts to this that weather causes you to implement, but we’re here,” Johnson said.

“Quick response won’t be so quick, it may take a little longer than usual, people have to have a little patience with us,” Thomas said.

With temperatures expected to be below freezing for the next day or so, first responders will be out and about, making sure they are answering calls, keeping themselves safe, while protecting and serving.

Johnson emphasized that while well-traveled roads in Tupelo are seeing more traffic, the county roads are frozen over and travel is strongly discouraged.

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