LAWRENCE, Ind.– When every second counts, there’s no time for life-saving equipment to fail. Fire and EMS crews are prepared to respond in the cold, but there are steps they have to take when arctic air hits central Indiana.
Lawrence Fire Chief Dino Batalis says they see more calls this time of the year due to people over-exerting themselves from shoveling snow, not having proper clothing, unattended candles, space heater fires and using ovens to heat their homes.
“They take extra precautions,” said Batalis.
Batalis says his crews have to take care of themselves first.
“We can’t obviously help somebody else if our people are in distress,” he said.
To prevent frost bite or hypothermia, firefighters and EMS crews have the proper gloves, coats and boots to stay dry.
“We want to ensure our people have layers on and they’re dressed properly,” said Batalis.
Frozen tanks, hoses or hydrants could turn into a disaster. To prevent that from happening on scene, the truck engines stay on. Crews leave the pumps engaged to circulate water.
“Fire hydrants can freeze up, there’s just a lot of things that with this element and things have a tendency to break when it’s cold out,” said Batalis, “Sometimes it’s so cold we can’t put them back on the apparatus, we have to get a trailer and get them back to the fire house.”
EMS crews also make adjustments during winter the cold months.
“When we’re on scene, our ambulances are never turned off,” said Brian Van Bokkelen of Indianapolis EMS.
With more than 300 runs daily, Indianapolis EMS vehicles have to be ready for winter weather.
“A nice, warm blanket tends to help from time to time and maybe if they have a medication they need to warm up,” said Van Bokkelen, “Please be mindful of first responder vehicles that are out on the road. We’re trying to do our job, and everyone is trying to get everywhere safely.”
Emergency crews say there are things you can do to help them help you.
“Make sure your address is visible from the street, don’t pile snow in front of the fire hydrants,” Batalis added, “If they’re using space heaters, try to keep those away from combustibles and three feet away from the walls.”
For more safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association, click here.