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Rescue team overwhelmed by number of stranded motorists

December 19, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. -- Independent Fire Co. Chief Ed Smith said he and a group of people formed a team to rescue motorists who were stuck during Saturday's snow storm, but were forced to give up the effort.

"The number of (calls) was overwhelming. There are cars everywhere. It's very, very treacherous," Smith said early Saturday afternoon.

The people involved in the rescue group decided their time was better spent assisting with medical calls, which were presenting their own challenges, Smith said.

Two ambulances became stuck in the snow responding to calls, Smith said.

One ambulance became stuck responding to a call at Washington Village off South George Street in Charles Town and the other ambulance became stuck on Washington Street in Harpers Ferry, Smith said.

Because of heavy snow, patients were being taken to the closest hospital, Smith said.

A patient who suffered a broken leg in Rippon, W.Va., wanted to be transported to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg, W.Va., but "it's just not practical," Smith said.

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The patient was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Smith said.

A state of emergency was declared in the state and the county as a result of the storm, said Barb Miller, director of Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Under a state of emergency, resources such as the National Guard are available to help with emergencies like power failures and if people need shelter, Miller said.

"At this point, it's just preparedness," Miller said Sunday afternoon.

Miller said about 13 inches of snow had fallen by early afternoon Sunday and she said up to 24 inches could fall on the county. There was probably more snow on the Blue Ridge Mountain than in lower areas, Miller said.

Roads that were plowed were "extremely icy," Smith said.

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