Greene County

Emergency crews at risk on snowy roads

Emergency crews at risk on snowy roads

First responders still face treacherous conditions as the snow and ice continues to melt off roads.

It's been about a month since firefighters rushed to Karen DiBella's home in Greene County, Tenn., as her husband's business burned to the ground.

"The volunteer fire department came out in 22 degree weather to help us out and I've seen these guys do whatever they can to get to you," DiBella told us.

Fire crews fought cold weather that day but we're told this week's snow and ice made for more dangerous conditions.

Greene County EMS crews had a scary incident on one of their calls on Tuesday, said Robert Sayne, the Greene County EMS director.

"There was a van that had apparently stalled out and was parked there on the side of the road so the ambulance slowed down almost to a dead stop to negotiate around the van," said Sayne. "When they did that, the ambulance slid to the right, off of the road."

Sayne told us a tree stump or some other debris stopped the ambulance from going down the embankment. Both crew members inside were hurt.

Sayne told us that's why they always have extra people on hand in bad weather.

"If we know we're going into an area that's bad, we always send a supervisor or someone else in a four-wheel drive vehicle to respond and assist," he said.

Sayne told us the Sheriff's department also helps them on calls because their cruisers have four- wheel drive. He said it's too expensive for them to buy an ambulance with it.

"We just don't have enough snow to justify the extra cost of four wheel drive ambulances," said Sayne. "We do have chains for every truck."

He told us they weren't able to use the chains on Tuesday because the main roads had been cleared.

Kingsport fire crews had chains on their fire trucks at a house fire on Thursday morning. We're told that's because the road was icy.

"With our fire engines, there are automatic chains underneath if we were to be out and get snow and ice starting to fall," said Barry Brickey, with the fire department. "We go back to the fire station and we'll lift the trucks and put them on them manually."

He said it's very important that they have a good grip on the road.

"You're talking about tons of weight there in the vehicle so we'll have to be very careful when we're out driving in the streets," Brickey, said. "They could cut loose and slide on us at any moment."

Brickey told us they also have a warming van for the firefighters. 

All of the first responders told us you can expect slower response times when there is bad weather.

The average response time for Greene County EMS crews is 11 minutes. They were not able to tell us exactly how much longer that time is during bad weather.

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