SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While many of us can stay indoors and escape the frigid temperatures, first responders still have to be prepared to head out for calls whether it’s for fires, crashes or medical emergencies.
Take a look at these pictures below posted by the Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department battling a fire on Tuesday. Ice could be seen forming on a fire extinguisher due to the cold temperatures. Officials say many hoses were also freezing.
KELOLAND News spoke with Eric Bartz, a captain with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, and Kristy Miller, an EMT with Patient Care EMS, about how they are doing their doing their jobs given the conditions.
The daily duties of Sioux Falls Fire Rescue are challenging enough and the onset of bitterly-cold weather only makes their job tougher.
“One of which is the extreme cold with the water. We run at least 500 gallons on all of our trucks, and so when we’re on scene we’ve got to keep that water moving or it’s going to freeze up really quick,” Bartz said.
Depending on the call, they may also have some stations set up to keep crews and people warm.
“If we have to evacuate a building or things like that, sometime we’ll bring a bus in. It usually happens a few times a year,” Bartz said.
Bartz says the wind also poses another threat.
“Where it’s wind driven fires where that fire is going to really want to run on us, so it can make it a little bit more challenging, especially with the freeze up and stuff like that,” he said.
Patient Care EMS has been responding to weather-related calls like slips and falls, frostbite and car crashes.
“We do drive a lot slower in the conditions, so we do have to adapt a little bit, especially driving an ambulance. It’s a little bit different when it’s snowy and icy out, so we definitely have to slow down, take it easy, because at the end of the day, our patients and us are the ultimate priority, and getting there safe is all that matters,” Miller said.
And if being outside is a must…
“Layers on layers on layers because you can be outside for awhile,” Miller said.
And they try to move as quickly as they can to keep victims and themselves safe and warm.
“We have lots of blankets. We always make sure our heaters are on full blast,” Miller said.
“Start off by dressing warm like they always say. Wear a couple of layers, things like that, but blankets as well. And then just making sure if you’ve got to go somewhere that people know that you’re headed out. Especially in the rural areas is where the problem really really gets bad,” Bartz said.
They also remind people to keep fire hydrants, sidewalks and other walkways clear of any snow so that if there is an emergency, they can get around easily.