The extreme weather changes things.  First responders all work together

The extreme weather changes things. First responders all work together

Heavy snow means first responders need clearing help

B.C. Ambulance and Chilliwack Fire Department have both needed city snow removal crews to go in ahead of them on several occasions

Getting to emergencies in extreme weather is not quite as simple as it usually is for first responders in Chilliwack.

B.C. Ambulance and Chilliwack Fire Department personnel have both needed City of Chilliwack snow removal crews to go in ahead of them on several occasions recently to allow them to reach snowed-in residents during emergencies.

“We’ve assisted in six emergency calls since the storm event started,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz earlier this week.

Some calls were from gated communities or strata properties which are responsible for snow removal themselves.

“One of the big fears people have during these snow events is that somehow during an emergency, the first responders won’t be able to reach them. We’re getting lots of letters like that.

“So we’ve been trying to reassure our citizens who may be very fearful.”

The way it works is Chilliwack-based responders all work together, so when a citizen calls 9-1-1, a city plow can be dispatched to clear the way for the ambulance or fire department personnel to get through.

Plowing equipment is dispersed around Chilliwack.

“People forget we have 100 square miles (258 square km) of community to cover in Chilliwack,” the mayor said.

There is no one dedicated piece of equipment held in reserve to respond to emergencies. All hands on deck are clearing snow.

“It’s better to have them spread around so they can respond in time,” said Gaetz.