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Bitterly Cold Temperatures Present Challenges For Emergency Personnel

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WESTMORLAND COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) – During the Polar Vortex, which is bringing bitterly cold temperatures into the area, emergency officials are expected to be very busy.

Officials in Westmoreland County say they are as ready as they can be for the temperatures, which are essentially life threatening, but they have to be ready on a macro level. Westmoreland County is as big as Rhode Island. It has major interstates running through it and it has a lot of people living in high-rises in certain population areas.

A number of other challenges are present when it comes to dealing with potential emergencies during this extreme cold spell.

first responders
Photo Credit: KDKA

Over the past few days, planners have gone over scenarios and how to handle them all with the added element of cold that can kill you.

"So we bring these scenarios up constantly so that we can sharpen out skills and talk about the different steps that we would have to take to help support the local first responders and what they may need in responding to these types of incidents," said Westmoreland County Public Safety Director Bud Mertz.

An example of one of the scenarios discussed deals with the loss of heat in a nursing home, or a traffic accident on with a lot of people stranded on the roadside.

Part of that support is making all hands on deck ready at the emergency operation center. If more are needed, they are on standby.

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