Winter storms lead to a busy time for the Wisconsin State Patrol

TOMAH, Wis. (WEAU) -- The latest Wisconsin winter storm put a strain on everybody in the community, especially the Wisconsin State Patrol.

"The biggest challenges we have when we have this heavy snowfall is resources. We tax our resources to the end when we have large quantities of crashes," said Wisconsin State Patrol Sgt. Gary Helgerson. "Whether they're small crashes, cars in the ditch with no damage, or what we've seen in the last two days the large crashes that take a ton of resources to clean up."

And the state patrol saw their share of large crashes.

Including a 40-vehicle pileup Sunday near Osseo and a more than 20-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 just east of Tomah Tuesday, where remnants of the crash remain more than 24 hours later.

Helgerson says that when large crashes like that occur, the state patrol first closes down the scene so no other vehicles get caught in the traffic back-up.

Next, he says they then get to work to get injured people medical care and finally, make sure everyone gets out of harms way.

"We will go to each car that's in the ditch or on the roadway, we'll get the information from the occupants of the vehicle and we'll transport those people to the next exit where they have warm places to stay. Hotels, gas stations, truck stops, so we can get them out of harms way," said Helgerson.

And with a scene that takes four to five hours to clean up, it takes plenty of manpower.

Around 100 people work at the Wisconsin State Patrol Southwest Region, and during Tuesday's major snowstorm half of the entire crew was working during any given shift.

"If a trooper is working an eight hour shift we'll extend their shift an extra two or four hours. We can also call in our troopers and inspectors early," said Helgerson.

The cause of the I-90 pileup is still under investigation.