Knoxville and Knox Co. emergency responders prepare for storm

Knoxville and Knox Co. emergency responders prepare for storm

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By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - First responders from across Knox County met Thursday at the Emergency Management Agency office. They listened to the National Weather Service for what kind of weather to expect and when it will hit the area.

The emergency officials then came up with a plan of action. The Emergency Operation Center will be activated at 5 a.m. Friday morning and officials say they will be ready to respond.

Each emergency agency in Knoxville and Knox County will have a representative at the EOC. The center is where the emergency officials make coordinated decisions about instant priorities and resource use.

First responders from across Knox County gather to listen to the latest weather reports from the national weather service.

"The icing amounts are quite a bit less than we had yesterday so that's really the good news," said officials from the National Weather Service.

Less ice than anticipated is welcomed news for first responders like Rural Metro Fire Chief Jerry Harnish.

"It sounds as though conditions may not be a severe as we thought they might become yesterday but they still warrant some preparation," said Chief Harnish.

Knoxville and Knox County emergency officials are getting prepared to execute their severe weather plan.

"They were predicting significant ice accumulation starting rush hour tomorrow," said EMA director Alan Lawson

Friday officials won't just be concerned about slick roads, they are also worried the ice will cause more trees to come down and weigh down power lines.

"They were talking about a tenth to a third of an inch of ice and that has implications for power outages," said Lawson.

Emergency responders say an ice storm can cause more problems than a snow storm.

"Don't try to get out in it no matter what type of vehicle you have two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive none of the vehicles will go when the roads are ice covered," said Knoxville Police Department Spokesperson Darrell Debusk

Debusk says the slick roads can cause many accidents but officers are preparing for the winter weather.

"We have some cars at the shop that are already equipped with snow tires the officers will use those to respond to calls," said Debusk.

The Knoxville Fire Department is also gearing up for icy conditions using the four-wheel drive

SUVs instead of the fire trucks when possible.

"Obviously if it's a fire we've got to run the fire trucks but if it's a medical call we are going to run our four wheel drive vehicles on those type calls," said Knoxville Fire Department Captain Mark Wilbanks.

The fire trucks are also equipped to handle some snow and ice on the streets. Insta-chain systems have been installed on the trucks.

"That chain will swing down when the truck starts moving at 5 mph and grab that inside tire adding traction for the truck," explained Captain Wilbanks.

"We worry about wide spread power outages. We worry about people using candles if the powers out falling asleep and causing a house fire," he added.

Again officials say if it is icy in the morning to please stay off the road that way they can respond to emergency calls without further delay.

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