5 Questions with Washington County/Johnson City EMS Sgt. Lee Chase

Becky Campbell • Updated Dec 11, 2018 at 9:52 AM

Washington County/Johnson City EMS A-EMT (advanced emergency medical technician) Sgt. Lee Peace has one more 24-hour shift after today before a welcomed four-day break.

Monday’s weather wasn’t the best for any emergency responder, but they are bound by their duty to respond to emergencies regardless of what’s falling from the sky or what’s on the ground. 

What’s the worst part of working in inclement winter weather? 

“The worse part is just trying to get to the calls. Once the snow or ice or whatever it is starts, especially if it’s outrunning the salt trucks and plows. The backroads usually get cleared after the main roads and that’s (backroads) where the majority of our calls come from, trying to get in driveways and stuff like that.”

What’s the best part of working in inclement winter weather?

“We get a chance to do some more unusual things, especially being on a rescue truck. If the ambulance can’t make it up to a house, we have to not only manage the patient but figure out how to get them down.” EMS medics’ rope rescue experience can come in handy during those situations. Peace said medics had a situation last week where the terrain was too muddy and slippery to carry a patient to the ambulance so rescuers used a rope system to get the job done.

How does EMS prepare for inclement weather and responding to calls where roads haven’t been cleared?

“This weekend we made sure all the ambulances had snow chains, that they all fit and they were in good working order. All of our rescue trucks are four-wheel drive, so our fleet manager expedited (repairs on) any of them that were down for maintenance.”

A shift captain stayed up all night Saturday to keep updated on the weather and road conditions so crews could get quick up-to-date information for calls in the middle of the night. That also gave drivers vital information if they were going into an area where tire chains were needed.

“Early Sunday morning, all the trucks went to snow chains,” Peace said.

What types of calls does EMS get during inclement weather?

“It’s a lot of falls, either at their house trying to get down their driveway or sidewalk, then car wrecks is the next most common,” he said. “Usually it’s not major, like trying to get stopped at a stop sign.”

What advice would you give area residents during inclement weather?

If you have the option to stay home, or where ever you’re located, please do,” Peace said. “It’s the safest thing ... you’re not on the roads, you’re not in the middle of it and risking having a wreck. If it’s noon during the week, then you’re stuck at work or have to fight it to get home. If you do have to drive, watch your speed, go slow, leave plenty of stopping distance between you and other vehicles.”

“With the temperatures getting low (Monday) night and the melted snow freezing, black ice will be the thing to be aware of,” he said.