First responders cautiously rush to emergencies during slick conditions

MANHEIM TOWNSHIP, Lancaster County, Pa. --- The wintry weather over the last couple days creates "crazy days" for Susquehanna Valley Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Slick conditions lead to more crashes, thus increasing their workload.

Rob Walker, director of education with Susquehanna Valley EMS, said it's a balancing act: taking an abundance of caution while they rush to scenes of emergency.

“It’s kind of an on-going us versus them mentality. We have to keep an eye not only on ourselves for safety but all the other drivers surrounding us," said Walker

He said their style in winter weather: “Driving with due regard.”

Walker said ambulances with better equipped will go out on the roads first.

Also, he said their rule is to follow the speed limit.

In cases of slick weather, they will drop below the limit.

“It may take us a little bit longer to get to your house if there’s a crisis. We get there as quickly as we can, safely," said Walker.

EMS personnel have to deal with challenges that include the weight of an ambulance, which requires more time to stop than a standard pickup truck.

Their biggest threat? Walker said it's us.

Other people and drivers on the roads that are unaware of their presence.

“As cars have gotten better, they’ve gotten more soundproof. When you’re in your car, if you have the defroster on, you maybe have the radio on. You can’t hear our sirens until we’re right behind you," said Walker.

He said when other motorists either fail to acknowledge them or drive erratically around them, it's that much harder to navigate in slick conditions.

Walker said the rule is to move over to the right and stop until an ambulance clears you.

He said the provides the easiest path for EMS as they travel to and from where they're needed on treacherous roads.

“We always want to get home at the end of our shift," said Walker.

Susquehanna Valley EMS also stress the importance of Pennsylvania's "Move Over" law, especially during wintry conditions.

The law requires drivers to proceed with caution while attempting to put a lane of space between them and emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, that are stopped on the side of the road assisting others.

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