Blizzard Forces Emergency Responders To Use Snowmobiles, ATVs

The Blizzard of 2013 left police, fire and EMS personnel stranded on area roads overnight and prompted Derby to contact the National Guard for help.

Shelton, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency at 3:30 a.m. Oxford is expected to declare a state of emergency within the hour. A Code Red telephone message will be sent.

Everyone should stay off the roads.

The vast majority of local roads were still impassable as of 6:30 a.m. Three feet of snow is on the ground. Snow drifts are as high as five feet.

White-out conditions and five-foot snow drifts made Route 8 useless at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night. The snow on the road was as high as the jersey barriers that separate the north side of the highway from the south.

The storm — thought to be the worst since the Blizzard of ’78 — wreaked havoc overnight. Snow plows became stuck in Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton.

A medic from Ansonia Rescue Medical Services was stranded on Route 8 because of the heavy snow.

Meanwhile, a woman on Route 8 Friday night suffering from an asthma attack in her car had to wait while emergency responders battled the elements, trying to punch a way through the snow.

The Derby Storm Rescue truck became stranded on Wakelee Avenue responding to the Route 8 call. Ambulances got stuck responding.

“We literally couldn’t get to her,” said David Lenart, Derby Storm Ambulance and Rescue chief.

The Derby Office of Emergency Management then attempted to contact the National Guard for help clearing Route 8.

The Guard wasn’t needed, however, as Derby Storms pulled out a 6×6 Polaris Ranger, an off road vehicle, to reach the woman. She was then transferred to Griffin Hospital via the Polaris.

Four other patients were transported on the Polaris to Griffin, according to Lenart.

“It’s the little engine that could,” Lenart said.

They were all routine medical calls made difficult because of the blizzard.

Lenart said Gov. Dannel Malloy signed an emergency order giving permission to emergency responders to use vehicles such as the Polaris to get people to hospitals.

“This is the first time we’ve had to hold back calls because of snow,” Lenart said. “Usually we can coordinate with DPW and the fire department. But this was different.”

Plows trying to clear the snow were overwhelmed and became stranded themselves all over the lower Naugatuck Valley.

Shelton Police Chief Joel Hurliman sent a message to the media at 3:30 a.m. Saturday saying a state of emergency had been declared in Shelton.

EMS crews in Shelton could be heard on radio transmissions Saturday morning using a snowmobile to respond to calls since vehicles can’t use the majority of the roads.

An EMT in Shelton contacted the Valley Indy at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, saying emergency responders in Shelton needed snowmobiles or ATVs. If you have one, call Echo Hose Ambulance at 203 924 9211.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of emergency calls Saturday morning were from people concerned about gas poisoning since the heavy snow smothered the vents to their homes.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has ordered all roads in Connecticut closed until further notice. Only emergency response and recovery vehicles with the capacity to maneuver in heavy snow are allowed on the road at this time, according to a message from state officials.

“It’s critical right now that residents stay off the roads, so that our plows can continue their efforts to clear our streets and highways,” Malloy said in a press release. “This is a record setting storm. It’s going to take time to dig out of the snow. Stalled or abandoned vehicles will only slow that process. Unless you face an emergency, please stay put.”

Finally, residents are reminded to please shovel the snow away from fire hydrants today.


There were no comments