EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 9, 2013

Taking no chances

Police, fire, hospitals, utilities add staff, equipment to respond to blizzard

With a blizzard bearing down on us, local, state and other emergency workers were preparing to protect us.

“We have beefed up staffing with the hope of trying to minimize any delays in response,” Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said yesterday. “Depending on how much snow we get, obviously there will be delays.”

Despite what was forecast to be a storm of record proportions, authorities said they were ready with extra manpower, extra equipment and some modern-day emergency technology to handle any crisis.

Mansfield said it’s important for rescue crews to “take their time” when responding to an emergency. “We don’t want the rescuers to become the rescued,” he said. “They need to do their due diligence in responding to emergencies, but we have to make sure they don’t become part of the problem.”

Fire trucks and ambulances have chains that can be deployed as needed, but if worse comes to worst, he said, a public works plow can be used to clear a path for an emergency vehicle.

“In some instances we have had snow plows push snow out of the way so that emergency vehicles can get to where they need to go,” he said. “We’ve done it before. We are prepared to mobilize that type of operation again.”

Lawrence General Hospital is open and ready.

“There’s definitely no closure for us,” said said Andrea Eobstel, marketing and communication specialist at the hospital. “We will be fully open and are well-prepared.”

She said the hospital has plenty of equipment, including flashlights, two-way radios, back up generators, batteries and cell phones. In addition, an electrician will be on site during the duration of the storm and a plumber on call.

In addition, Lawrence General has two, 4-wheel drive Jeeps to pick up staff members who want to arrive early for their shifts. Workers can also stay over if they don’t want to venture into the snow.

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