Essential emergency workers lend helping hands during winter weather

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 10:55 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - When it comes to dangerous winter weather conditions, some essential workers you may not have thought about can’t afford to take a day off of work because they are lending a hand to those in need.

Diana Patterson, a 911 dispatcher who works in Archer County, said her 25 minute morning commute from Megargel took an hour because of dangerous road conditions on Wednesday morning, but she knew she had to get to work to answer the calls on the other line.

Texoma tow truck drivers are also doing their part by getting those that may be stuck out on the roads to safety.

“We help get tow trucks in route for people that are stranded, so without us being here you don’t have somebody to answer, so it’s very, very vital for us to make it to work safely to take care of our community,” Patterson said. “We could get calls from stranded motorists that slid off the roadways, we could end up with vehicle accidents from one vehicle rollover to multiple vehicles. Sometimes they have injuries, sometimes they don’t. We could get somebody that’s trying to walk out of their house they slip and fall.”

During days like Wednesday, there could be three dispatchers in the office, one handling the two 911 lines, another picking up one of the four landlines, and the other giving directions on the radio.

“At this time, there is no option to work from home. Everything that controls our 911 system landlines, everything is right here in this room because without us in here, even the jailers can’t do their job,” Patterson said.

And sometimes it’s not a caller on the other end, but tow truck drivers who are handling things out on the roads.

“On a bad weather day, I’m sure we can receive up to 200 phone calls. Most of the time law enforcement needs us out there to clear the roadway, whether it’s a semi and or single-vehicle accident, so that way they can move on and get out of the cold because they’re right out there with us,” Shane Freeman, general manager and driver for Mike’s Towing Service, said.

And they too are part of a team of essential workers.

“During this weather, we know we don’t get much sleep, probably a couple, two or three hours a night until the roads are better but it’s a part of the job,” Freeman said.

Patterson said plan ahead by keeping extra coats and blankets in your car if you do get into a wreck. After you call 911, try to stay warm and if you are injured, don’t move until help can get to you.

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