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Winter weather has little impact on emergency services

Bannock County Sheriff's Car
A Bannock County Sheriff's Office vehicle parked next to a large pile of snow.

BANNOCK COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Winter weather advisories are still in effect for much of eastern Idaho, but even with difficult driving conditions, emergency services are always just a call away.

"You will have a downpour, the next day you won’t. In fact, in the morning you’ll have snow, in the afternoon you’ll have sun, and that evening you’ll have rain," Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said.

While the weather in east Idaho can be quite unpredictable, recent conditions have been consistently cold and snowy. 

"When the wind blows around here, it blows," Nielsen said. "And you can have two inches and it’ll be six inches somewhere else and 12 feet somewhere else because it all just blows in different directions."

Snowdrifts aren't quite hitting 12 feet, but even if they were, Sheriff Nielsen said when his office gets a call, they always respond. 

"I feel very comfortable in our emergency response," he said. "We may not be fast -- like in a big city they get excited if you don’t get there in three minutes -- cause we do have 1,100 square miles of county to deal, and most of it’s rural."

The same goes for the Pocatello Fire Department, whose reach far exceeds the city limits. 

"We have precautionary measures," Fire Chief David Gates said. "Often, our firetrucks will actually chain up. We also have what are called on spot chains, which kick out automatically if the wheels start to slip." 

Additionally, all of the department's ambulances, including the ones in Lava Hot Springs and Downey, are four-wheel drive. 

"Those are all things that help, but, you know, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of us not getting to a call due to a snowy condition," Gates said.

Nielsen echoed the same thing, saying it definitely takes longer out in the rural parts of the county but added that it's the joint effort of multiple departments that makes the process easier.

“I have gone to calls where we have a plow truck with a ambulance behind it and a police car behind it," Nielsen said, "and we’ll come.”

Idaho / News / Pocatello / Regional News / Top Stories / Travel

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