First responders faced with danger in winter weather

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - When winter weather strikes first responders are there when drivers lose control. But every time they pull over to the side of the road to help they are put at risk.

“Well the main danger is when we are responding to calls with red lights and sirens, that people don't move over out of the way,” Trooper Matthew Maus said. “All people have to do is move over into the right lane as we are coming down a four lane or move on to the shoulder as we are coming through.”

The Nebraska State Patrol responded to over 200 weather related calls last weekend during the snowfall. That includes nearly 50 crashes which some included large trucks on busy highways and sections of the interstate.

Firefighters also have to navigate icy city streets and side roads to respond to calls.

“If it's really icy or really snowing we are going to have to shut off lights, sirens, stuff like that,” Hastings Firefighter Paramedic Joseph Hermann said. “We are going to have to reduce our speed so we can get there safely.”

The Hastings Fire Department averages about 11 calls a day and potentially more during the winter due to ice and snow. They say many people don't take the time to slow down on icy roads.

“They don't leave themselves enough time to respond to get where they're going,” Trooper Maus said. “You should add at least 10 to 15 minutes to your normal routine.”

If a driver has to be on the road during poor weather, troopers urge people to slow down. Firefighters ask people to give them plenty of room on the road to get to their calls and if you do slide off into a ditch don't try to get back onto the roadway.

“We'd rather pull you out safely than you do something that's going to cause an accident and injure yourself or other parties,” Trooper Maus said.

Troopers want to remind people that when they have their red lights on that means everyone should move out of the way.