Eastern Berks Fire Department, as do many local fire companies, operates in snow mode during major snow events like this weekend's Blizzard of 2016. That means preparing apparatus ahead of forecasted storms, including placing tire chains on key trucks.
Bally Ambulance, often requests that once the snow reaches a certain depth (often 6+ inches), the nearest fire department respond with the ambulance to help gain access to each patient through unplowed driveways and unshoveled walkways. This involves crews responding from the Bally station with the snow plow equipped Utility 97, and from the Bechtelsville station with additional manpower.
In addition, during major storms, crews often sleep at one of the stations to make sure the apparatus can respond to any emergency. During and after this blizzard, with its incredible challenges, we were lucky to be called upon only five times:
- Saturday January 23 - In the midst of the "Blizzard of 2016," 97 and 505 were dispatched for an ALS trauma in Washington Township. Crews were on standby in one of the department's station and responded to assist the ambulance crew in gaining access to the patient. Roads were nearly impassable, and only with help of the Washington Township road crew could the medics reach the patient. 97 personnel assisted with gaining access to the house and transferring the patient to the ambulance. Thank you Washington Township.
- Sunday January 24 - In the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2016, 97, 505 and Montg 67 were dispatched for an ALS Medical in Douglas Township. Roads were snow covered, drifted to one lane in places. Once again a township road crew assisted by clearing the home's driveway through the 2+ feet of snow in order for medics to gain access to the patient. Fire personnel then shoveled the walk to the house and assisted to transport the patient over the snowy drive to the waiting ambulance. Thank you Douglass Township!
- Sunday January 24 - Just as the weary 97 firefighters and families were sitting down to their annual holiday dinner, once again 97 and 505 were dispatched to an ALS Trauma, this one in Washington Township. Again fire crews assisted EMS in gaining access to the patient and removing the patient across snow to the ambulance.
- Monday January 25 - 97 and 505 dispatched for an BLS trauma in Washington. As with the other calls, assisted in snow removal, and getting patient to litter.
- Monday January 25 - 97 dispatched to investigate possible transformer fire in Washington. Deputy 97 arrived to find smoke coming from underground transformer vault. Assignment held to E97-2 at normal flow. Area cordoned off with yellow scene tape. As the company was going available Met-Ed arrived on location.
After the storms, we then make sure hydrants are cleared of snow (something with which the public can gladly assist!)
All part of your 100% volunteer unpaid professional fire department!