First responders still hard at work in subzero temperatures

A look at the conditions Lincoln Fire & Rescue and Nebraska State Patrol are working in.
Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 1:17 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - While many spent the past couple days hunkered down at home, first responders like any other day reported to work, which for them takes place outdoors much of the time.

They say the bone-chilling cold certainly changes how they do their jobs but that it is something they’re trained for.

For Lincoln Fire and Rescue and The Nebraska State Patrol, subzero temperatures are just another factor on the list of things they’re taking into account when responding to an emergency.

Dashboard video taken from an NSP cruiser near Scottsbluff showed whipping winds and minimal visibility. Giving people a chilling glimpse into conditions troopers have been working in statewide.

View of blizzard conditions south of Scottsbluff Wednesday night from a Nebraska State Patrol trooper's cruiser dashcam.

“We went from 20-hour coverage that we usually have to 24-hour coverage,” said Trooper Mark White. “So there’s always a trooper on out patrolling somewhere.”

NSP said checking I-80 has been the top priority during this cold snap. Troopers have been looking for drivers stranded in their cars on the side of the road.

They helped more than 350 people across Nebraska Wednesday and Thursday.

“Giving them a ride to a location and you know possibly providing you cellular connection if they need it, you know, whatever they need within reason,” White said.

The extreme cold is also on the minds of Lincoln firefighters. When temperatures get this low, and something is burning they have to do things differently to keep themselves safe.

“What we do from a command point of view is we will rotate people out faster of fire situations,” said Battalion Chief Matt Treasure.

That rotation means more crews will be called to an emergency scene than normal.

“Instead of keeping them on location and rehabbing them and then putting them back to work we’ll rotate a crew in, work them, put them back in a rig, put them back in service, and bring the next crew up so that firefighters can stay warm,” Treasure said.

Both agencies said when it comes to what you can do in these conditions, planning is your best bet. Whether that’s an emergency kit in your car in case you get stranded or even something as simple as checking smoke alarm batteries.