Emergency responders busy due to the winter blast!

NILES, Mich. -- Ever since the snow started falling in Berrien and Cass Counties emergency responders have been extremely busy. Since Monday Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Services (SMCAS) out of Niles has been dispatched to close to 60 calls and many have been weather related.

Emergency responders say the weather makes it a challenge for a quick response and that's why they are asking for the public's cooperation.

SMCAS EMT Jason Spitler who has worked in the profession for 20 plus years said, "We ran close to 500 calls already since the beginning of January."

55 of those calls have been since Monday when the snow started to hit Michiana hard.

He explained many of the calls have been weather related. "I went on an accident the other day that was a rollover due to the slippery roads."

His shift Captain Josh Kay said some of the calls he has been dispatched to in his 20 year plus career have been close calls for him! One in particular stands out.. "A semi truck basically didn't see us and he may have come with in a foot of our ambulance going at 65 miles per hour," said Kay.

Spitler said, "We try to have some sort of a barrier, so if someone is going to hit the unit instead of us."

This time of year paramedics are asking drivers to slow down and pay attention to the road. Especially when you see lights and hear sirens.

Spitler said, "A lot of times when people aren't moving over for us when we are responding, as we are passing them we are finding that they are on their cell phone or either texting- they never see us!"

"It poses a danger to us when we're on the side of the road and we are trying to help somebody and we don't have the resources available to help with traffic control." said Kay.

After all their focus is on saving lives and getting around this time of year is already a hindrance.

"The roads make it a lot tougher, we can't respond as efficiently as we would in the summer time, so it does pose some obstacles," said Kay.

Paramedics and EMTs would like people no matter where they live to wipe the snow from your mailbox so your address is visible. They are also asking drivers to keep their walkways and drive way clear of snow. They said doing those things will improve the response rate for emergency crews to get to your house or your neighbor's house if there is an emergency.

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