Fairfax, Va. – When a late-season snowstorm threatened the Mid-Atlantic last week, first responders anticipated the increased need for fire and emergency medical services. More than 60 Fairfax County volunteers signed up to bring two-dozen additional fire and rescue units into service, increasing the response capability over a 48-hour period.
Winter Storm Saturn, also billed as “Snowquester” in the Capital Region, brought a mix of snow, wind and rain to the area on Wednesday, March 6. And although it did not dump the worst-case scenario of 10 inches of heavy snow in Fairfax, the storm was expected to be the strongest snowstorm to hit the area in two years.
“When events like a winter storm hits the region, members from our 12 volunteer fire organizations step up to serve the County,” said Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association President Jonathan Wood.
Wood said volunteers installed plows to utility trucks as added capability to clear fire stations and snow-covered roadways for other response vehicles such as ambulances and fire apparatus. They also put extra ambulances in service to boost resource management flexibility for 9-1-1 dispatchers and alleviate call volume of advanced life support units.
“Since operational volunteers are trained to the same professional standards as career firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, they often work side-by-side responding to emergency calls,” explained Wood. “Those who volunteered during Winter Storm Saturn were prepared.”
The first volunteers began staffing units as early as Tuesday evening, and many operated throughout the first night as the region prepared for wet, heavy snow.
The priority was to up-staff four-wheel-drive vehicles and ambulances during the hardest-hitting period on Wednesday, according to Jack May, Volunteer Resource Officer and chief of the Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.
Additionally, May said, several stations scheduled contingency shifts for Thursday in case there was an increased need for fire and emergency medical services during the storm recovery phase.
“Many of our volunteers are full-time students, work demanding careers, or have heavy personal commitments,” May added. “That they stepped up so quickly when the call for help first came out is testament to their selfless dedication to our community.”
The Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association is a partnership of 12 volunteer fire and rescue departments in Fairfax County, Va. Learn more about the Association at www.fcvfra.org. (3/12/2013)