How FFs, EMS are handling severe winter weather across US

Firefighters, EMTs and paramedics across the country brave freezing temperatures, face record call volumes and remind community members to stay safe in the cold


Communities across the nation have been inundated with treacherous winter weather conditions over the past couple weeks, with power outages, icy roads and heavy snowfall posing immense hazards to public safety. Fire and EMS departments in hard-hit areas such as Central Texas have seen call volumes skyrocket and responded to catastrophic incidents as a result of these dangerous conditions. 

Here are some of the ways fire, EMS and rescue personnel are managing the difficult weather and continuing their lifesaving work through the cold:

Tackling record call volumes, BAD ACCIDENTS

Inclement weather has increased emergency call volumes in many regions, as first responders see more reports of slips and falls, vehicle crashes, exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning and more. 

In Texas, Austin-Travis County EMS personnel have responded to more than 1,000 calls per day for several days, including dozens of calls for collisions and carbon monoxide and hundreds for exposure and falls. 

In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Fire Department reported that its call volume more than doubled its daily average, spiking from an average of 228 calls to 518 on Monday and 629 on Tuesday. Officials said many of the calls involve fires caused by improper use of heating equipment and burst water pipes. 

 

Just keeping you all in the loop! Your OKCFD averages about 228 emergency calls per shift throughout the year. On...

Posted by Oklahoma City Fire Department on Wednesday, February 17, 2021
 

Firefighting in the winter does have its challenges, but your OKC Firefighters are fantastic at what they do. This is...

Posted by Oklahoma City Fire Department on Sunday, February 14, 2021

In addition to an overall increase in calls, many areas are seeing serious accidents as a result of snow and ice. Chicago firefighters responded to multiple roof collapses due to heavy snow, including one incident resulting in fatal injuries. 

In Nashville, weather conditions caused a boating dock to collapse, and first responders rescued 12 people trapped in sinking boats. 

Slippery roads also led to close calls for emergency crews, including in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. 

 

Early this morning, because of the ice, this happened. Luckily, the crew is OK. The storm is serious. STAY HOME. Our life (and yours) are on the line. FireSafeSA.com

Posted by San Antonio Fire Department on Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sending safety messages

While the weather itself might not be avoidable, there are many ways to prevent accidents amidst cold conditions. Public safety agencies used social media to spread information about how to stay safe indoors, outdoors and on the road. 

Carbon monoxide and heaters:

Road conditions: 

 

Please be aware of ice on the roadways before you travel. Only travel if absolutely necessary. We are over half way done...

Posted by Harris County Emergency Services District 5/Crosby EMS on Wednesday, February 17, 2021
 

PLEASE STAY HOME AND INDOORS! As this wave of winter weather sets in on our area, road conditions are deteriorating and...

Posted by Lawrence County EMS on Wednesday, February 17, 2021
 

MORNING ROAD CONDITIONS - The roads are snow and ice covered this morning. Primary streets are in the best shape but are...

Posted by GEORGETOWN FIRE DEPARTMENT on Thursday, February 18, 2021

Getting a helping hand

In many communities, the public has rallied around its emergency responders as they worked tirelessly through the storms and freezing temperatures. From keeping first responders fed to keeping hydrants clear of snow and more, good Samaritans have extended a helping hand to first responders. 

 

Huge shoutout to Chicken Express, Casa Rodriguez Mexican Restaurant, Carters Burger, and Texas Roadhouse for feeding our...

Posted by Bryan Firefighters Association on Thursday, February 18, 2021
 

We have received unprecedented support from the community to make sure our medics have a chance to eat while running...

Posted by Austin EMS Association on Thursday, February 18, 2021

 

Continuing to serve

Despite the difficult conditions, first responders across the nation have continued to serve, working through the cold to respond to fires, crashes, accidents and medical emergencies, and save lives. As Graham (Wash.) Fire & Rescue stated in a tweet, there are "no snow days" for first responders. 

 

Conditions aren't great for your Austin medics, but we're still doing everything we can to bring life saving medicine to you wherever you need it.

Posted by Austin EMS Association on Sunday, February 14, 2021
 

All of our team members braved the dangerous weather to appropriately staff your local ambulance service today. Due to...

Posted by Crockett County Ambulance Service on Monday, February 15, 2021

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