Harsh weather creates added risks for first responders

With subzero wind chills hitting Minnesota on New Year’s Day, emergency responders are preparing for the added risks the harsh weather will bring.

“You become wet then you become frozen,” said Norwood Young America Fire Chief Steve Zumberg.

Fire Chief Steve Zumberg says in his department over the last two years, six firefighters were injured while battling winter fires. Fighting the flames and working around the snow and ice can take a physical toll.

“Your fingers can be suffering from frostbite while your body is going into dehydration mode,” said Fire Chief Zumberg.

On Dec. 9, Norwood Young America firefighters battled flames and below freezing temperatures after a church caught fire. Chief Zumberg says rough weather conditions can make it a battle just to arrive safely to the scene of an emergency. 

“You’ve got the icy roads getting to the scene, the public is out on icy roads also,” said Zumberg. “You have to slow down to get there faster.”

Sometimes responding to a crash, means working just feet away from traffic. 

“We always look out for each other, but we really look out for each other then,” he said.

Fire Chief Zumberg says departments often work with public works to make sure sand and other materials are put down to help with all the ice and to make sure the roads are safe for others.