How first responders handle icy streets

Jan 5 2017, 8:37 pm

While many drivers in Metro Vancouver stay on major arterial and maintained roads when it comes to commuting in winter weather, (or simply don’t drive at all), others don’t have a choice, particularly when it’s part of their job description.

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And when the job is to help others – as it is with police and paramedics – even more consideration is given towards how to safely and effectively handle winter roads.

“All ambulances carry chains, and we use winter tires,” BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) spokesperson Joe Acker told Daily Hive. “We’re also driving a little more cautiously, and to the road conditions.”

And despite challenging road conditions around Metro Vancouver lately, there “have been no specific cases” of ambulances being hindered by the weather, he said.

But challenges can arise when it comes to things like moving stretchers through snow to access a patient, which can require a little more manpower.

And when the city is hit with a big dump of snow, such as it was on New Year’s Eve, changes are made when it comes to how BCEHS prioritizes calls. “We’ll stop – or delay – low priority calls, such as patient transfers,” Acker said.

In cases where road conditions are particular treacherous, other staff will be deployed in minivans carrying supplies like extra chains, sand, or even warm clothing supplies for those on shift, just in case any big issues arise.

In the Vancouver Police Department’s case, dealing with snow and winter conditions is pretty straightforward.

“Our officers are utilizing the major streets, if possible, and exercising caution on the icy side streets‎,” Sgt. Randy Fincham told Daily Hive . “We encourage the public to do the same.”

Acker also reminded drivers to stay calm and not panic when they see emergency vehicles in  bad winter weather. “Sometimes when people see them, they’ll slam on their brakes and end up sliding all over the road,” he said.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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