1/7/2014 11:14:00 AM Stories of heroism by rescuers emerge as emergency responders work
Personnel from the Illinois National Guard field maintenance shop in Mattoon coordinated with Illinois State Police troopers and Illinois Department of Transportation snow plow crews to assist motorists in approximately 375 vehicles backed up on I-70 and I-57 north of Effingham Sunday evening. The backup was the result of several vehicles and semi-trucks that were stuck in snow drifts, making it impossible for snow plows to clear the route for the cars to proceed. Illinois National Guard personnel used a wrecker to pull the stranded vehicles and trucks from the road, which allowed IDOT crews to clear the road and rescue hundreds of passengers.
"The men and women of the Illinois National Guard are again demonstrating their commitment to the safety and security of Illinois citizens," Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, said. "We train extensively throughout the year to be ready and on the scene to help our neighbors at a moment's notice. Within two hours of activation, our Soldiers navigated dangerous road conditions in sub-zero temperatures to rescue stranded motorists."
Conservation Police Officer Trent Reeves rescued seven people and two pets that were trapped by snow drifts along Route 47 north of Mahomet. Emergency vehicles could not reach the people, so Officer Reeves traveled by snowmobile and on foot to rescue the stranded individuals and deliver them to nearby emergency vehicles. All of those rescued, including the pets, are fine. Officer Jim Mayes assisted with the rescue, and himself used his truck to rescue six individuals who were stranded on Interstate 74 in east central Illinois. State officials are advising people to stay safe and take the proper precautions during this weather emergency.
“With the freezing temperatures, black ice is a major concern,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “Black ice forms on roads that appear clear and the unseen ice can be treacherous. We encourage motorists, if they must travel, to take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas – all are prone to black ice.”
“If you must drive in these dangerous conditions, be sure to stock your vehicle with emergency supplies, such as bottled water, snack foods, a flashlight, blankets, extra warm clothing, gloves, boots and other winter weather items,” Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal caution residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. If appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can result. Symptoms may resemble winter flu or food poisoning, particularly in children, and include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and lethargy. Higher levels of exposure can cause fainting, marked confusion and collapse. If exposure continues, death can result. If your carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds, call 911 and leave the area immediately. Affected individuals should be led to fresh air.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time; do not burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented; do not use gasoline-powered engines in your house, garage or other enclosed spaces; and do not use a charcoal grill, camping stove or Sterno-type fuel for cooking indoors, even in a fireplace.
The Department of Public Health also reminds people to reduce the chance of frostbite or hypothermia by staying dry and wearing several layers of lightweight clothing; covering your head; wearing mittens rather than fingered gloves; wearing warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks; and covering your ears and lower face.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture encourages pet-owners to keep their pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen food and water. To protect people’s pets, they also encourage everyone to use pet-friendly salt when clearing sidewalks and driveways.