Car crashes, medical emergencies and fires can happen anytime, especially during and after a winter storm.

That’s why first responders say they always need to be prepared. However, snow, icy roads and freezing temperatures can make a risky job even more dangerous. So, how do first responders prepare to save lives during inclement weather?

The Johnstown Fire Department puts snow chains on the firetruck tires and they try to dress for the cold.

“It’s hard for firefighters to dress differently because you can go from a very cold extreme to a very hot extreme when dealing with fires. We just try to limit the time we’re out there. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t do that and we just have to deal with the situation,” said Jim McCann, the Johnstown Fire Department’s assistant chief.

What can you do to makefirst responders’ jobs a little easier?They say: just pick up a shovel and get to work.

“If you keep your sidewalks cleared, you know, a path out. Nobody expects an ambulance, but, you know, just in case that happens, if you have a clear path for us, it makes it so much easier,” said Ira Hart, the manager for West End Ambulance Company.

Firefighters say you should shovel out hydrants, too.

“if we come in and we have to use that as a water source and we have to take the time to shovel that out, it delays the time that we have to put water on the fire,” McCann said. 

They also recommend you drive slowly and carefully and be on the lookout for fire trucks or ambulances.

“Pay attention to the weather. Be proactive. Be prepared,” said McCann.

If you’re prepared, first responders say they can be better prepared, too.