Central Texas first responders busy with calls during winter weather

First responders have been very busy with the weather, dealing with everything from downed power lines to car crashes to falls on ice.

"You know, it's run the gamut," Capt. Darren Noak with Austin-Travis County EMS said.

"Call volume is pretty high. Dispatchers dispatched about 945 calls since midnight," Bob Nicks, president of the Austin Firefighters Association said.

Noak says the first day of the storm, they had about 350 incidents, and the next day they had over 600. At first, they had more calls for traffic collisions, then more for falls and injuries from falling ice.

"Falls on the ice can become very serious and even deadly if you slip and fall and strike your head," Noak said.

He also says people have been calling 911 when medical equipment isn't working.

"If someone feels like they're in such a medical need, and they need to call 911, they certainly can. We do have alternate dispositions and alternate vehicles and resources that we can either send or connect those folks to. So, we're not necessarily sending an ambulance out on every one of those calls. Obviously, we're trying to reserve our ambulance fleet for the more serious and life-threatening injuries and illnesses that occur," Noak said.

Both agencies increased staff.

"We had a lot more calls than normal, probably three or four times more than normal, but nothing severe yet other than the power outage," Nicks said.

He says they've been responding to calls ranging from fires to broken water pipes to traffic crashes.

When he spoke to FOX 7 Wednesday afternoon, there were about 270 wire arcing calls.

First responders are also reminding people that traffic lights that are out should be treated as four-way stops.

"That's very important, especially when we start moving into the nighttime hours, could be very dangerous," Noak said.

Officials say the safest thing you can do is stay inside. Give space heaters plenty of space, don't use your oven for heat, and keep generators outside.