LANCASTER, Pa. — First responders don’t get snow days.
In anticipation of heavy snow Wednesday, emergency crews spent Tuesday preparing to work through the snow storm.
Lancaster City declared a snow emergency because more than 8 inches of snow is expected.
“We’ve planning all day across multiple bureaus and departments across the city for what’s coming tomorrow,” said Lancaster City Bureau of Fire Chief Scott Little.
Firefighters at Station 3 on E. King St. stockpiled salt, snow shovels and car tire chains. Twenty-one firefighters will be on duty during the storm, up from the usual shift number of 14.
The bureau also outfitted their own snow plow vehicle to run ahead of the fire truck if needed.
“Already those tight streets that we have, that we barely fit down on a normal day, the snow just piles that problem,” Little said.
The snow will also likely affect local emergency medical services.
Call volume usually goes down during a snow event, but the time needed to respond to each call goes up, according Jerry Schramm, Lancaster EMS director of operations.
“It’s going to take us much more time when we have to shovel a walkway, salt steps, carry the patient very carefully, more hands, walking down a street that we normally could drive down,” Schramm said.
Unlike the Bureau of Fire, Lancaster EMS doesn’t have their own snow plow vehicle, so they had to plan how to drive safely in winter conditions.
“There’s a lot of danger,” Schramm said. “Our ambulances will slip and slide just the same as a vehicle will.”
Each ambulance with equipment costs more than $300,000, Schramm said, so the department can’t afford to have an accident.
“We may have the lights and sirens on going 15, 20 miles an hour because that’s what the roads dictate,” Schramm said.
Because the EMS personnel may have a very long day ahead, Schramm stocked up the break room with a bulk size pack of ramen noodles.
With all these preparations, first responders said they felt ready to continue helping in emergencies, snow or shine.