EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – They are there in a flash when you need them most.
But there could be something at your house right now that could slow down EMS getting to you in your time of need.
We're talking about snow and ice that's left to be shoveled.
The Eau Claire Fire Department said when it goes out on a call in the winter, crews often have to clear the wintery mix themselves to get to a person in need.
Battalion Chief Bryon Bensen told WEAU that snow and ice on roads is often a challenge for fire and EMS crews on their way to an emergency.
“It does tend to slow us down,” Bensen said.
But that's not the only battle they face in the winter when getting to a patient.
“We sometimes take that extra time just to shovel out a path so we can get the patient safely to the ambulance and get them to the hospital,” Bensen said.
If you haven't shoveled your driveway, sidewalk or front steps, it could do more than just slow down response time.
“We can slip and injure ourselves and become part of the problem,” Bensen said.
But they do come prepared.
“We do carry snow shovels on the fire trucks and the ambulances so we can dig ourselves out. We also carry salt and sand with the rigs.
The highest level trained people will take care of the medical problems, and if we have to worry about transportation and clearing snow, then the people on the engine will address those factors,” Bensen said.
The fire department is reminding all to clear those walkways, because you never know when you will need help.
“Depending on the emergency, sometimes seconds do count. And we look for the time savings whenever we can,” Bensen said.
And if you live near a fire hydrant, firefighters want you to make sure it's also clear of snow so they can find it if there's a fire.