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Assessing the damage

By Staff | Feb 19, 2010

Contractors’ dump trucks are dwarfed by the scale of the snow piles at the Shepherdstown municipal sewer plant lot off East High Street on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Theis/Chronicle

Local first responders and emergency services organizations are assessing their responses to the two massive snowstorms which buried the region this month.

Officials with the Jefferson County 911 Center say that between Feb. 5 and Feb. 8, local emergency workers responded to 28 vehicle accidents, 48 law enforcement calls, 39 fire calls, 112 EMS calls and 61 calls involving paramedics.

Jeffrey Polcynski, director of the Emergency Communications Center, hopes to analyze the performance of county and municipal emergency responders during the snowstorm. He says his analysis will examine how many emergencies local police and rescue units responded to, how many calls they received and response times.

“Our dispatchers certainly stepped up to their task for the portion of the storm where there were extremely hazardous conditions,” said Polczynski by phone on Tuesday. He said that extra dispatchers were employed during the busiest portions of the storms. The Jefferson County 911 Center is equipped with sleeping areas, kitchen and shower facilities for employees.

The Eastern Panhandle chapter of the American Red Cross said that its shelter at Covenant Baptist Church south of Shepherdstown on W.Va. 230 served two refugees of the storm.

“Fortunately,” said Debra Palmer of the Eastern Panhandle chapter of the American Red Cross, “I think a lot of people in Jefferson County are pretty self-sufficient.”

Despite only serving a small number of people in Jefferson County, Palmer says that the event was a good training experience for her volunteers. “Some of us had never been in a shelter situation before. It’s a hard way to learn, but you definitely get hands on training.”

The Red Cross shelter remained staged at Covenant Baptist Church until Tuesday afternoon in case a predicted third snow storm developed into something more serious. That storm hit early in the week and added a measly inch or two to the already snow covered landscape.