Weather doesn’t keep Callaway emergency service providers home

Many Callaway County residents enjoyed an extra day off Tuesday, courtesy of Mother Nature and hazardous road conditions, but while they were home making snowmen and hot chocolate Callaway County’s emergency responders had a day that was “business as usual.”

By 1:45 p.m., Callaway County Emergency Operations Director Michelle Kidwell said the county’s emergency call center had handled 300 calls – 14 of them slide-offs and accidents, including two injury accidents.

With the nature of their job – and that kind of call volume – not coming in because of a snow storm is not an option for Kidwell’s employees.

“We can’t close down because of road conditions,” Kidwell said. “It’s tough, because you can get stuck, and you’re away from your family.”

Knowing road conditions are bad, Kidwell said many will come in early for their 12-hour shifts to ensure they are there on time. For those who cannot make it in with their own vehicles, county trucks are sent out to bring them in for their shift.

On the occasions when employees simply can’t make it in, members of the previous shift stay to cover. There also are contingencies in place for when employees can’t make it home.

“We’re kind of stocked in case people can’t get back out – we have cots, blankets, pillows, a small cache of food and a room where they can sleep,” Kidwell said, noting that has only happened a few times this year.

She gave her employees credit for being dedicated too their jobs, even when they get stuck at work when everyone else is enjoying a snow day.

“I have to say, my staff are amazing,” Kidwell said. “If someone can’t make it in, they take it well well, and in good stride.”

With most of his employees living within five miles of town, Fulton Fire Chief Dean Buffington said there usually isn’t an issue with getting staff in for shifts, even in bad weather. When there is, he and Assistant Chief Kevin Coffelt usually make it out to pick them up.

Buffington said with chains on the tires of the fire trucks and extra clothes under bunk gear, his firefighters are ready to deal with “the normal things we deal with every winter.”

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