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Police cars, ambulances getting stuck all over Oklahoma City; tow companies busy

Oklahoma City patrol cars and ambulances are getting stuck all over the city, but few wrecks are being reported, police and EMSA officials said.
BY ROBERT MEDLEY and RICHARD MIZE rmedley@opubco.com rmize@opubco.com Modified: February 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm •  Published: February 1, 2011

Ambulances, police cars and a fire truck got stuck in snowdrifts across Oklahoma City today and slowed responses to wrecks and medical calls.

“We're having to hunker down in disaster mode,” said Lara O'Leary, Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman.

Towing companies have been hopping all day. A man who answered the phone at Jerry's Wrecker Service in Guthrie said he didn't have a minute to talk.

Contrary to common assumption, weather like this does not bring a windfall to towing companies.

“We're not making a lot of money,” said Steve Taft, owner of C&L Towing in Norman. Trucks burn more fuel when moving slowly through deep snow, he said, and there is always damage to tow trucks operating in dangerous situations.

Taft said he'd seen nothing particularly unusual.

“Right now, it's just the dummies trying to drive in it,” he said.

Just after noon, Taft said he was considering equipping the two trucks he had running with snow chains to aid in pulling vehicles out of 3- and 4-foot snowdrifts.

In Edmond, Coy Ivey, owner of Coy's Wrecker Service, said he was seeing the same old thing — but worse. He said he'd seen no improvement in drivers' abilities in his 41 years in business.

People are out driving in hazardous conditions when they should know better, he said, especially during a storm forecast so far in advance.

On the other hand, Ivey said, fewer people were on the roads this time, and some seemed better prepared because of the notice.

Also, the blizzard of 2011 doesn't compare with the Christmas 2009 storm, he said. High winds this time are creating blowing drifts, for one thing, and because of the lack of ice there are different kinds of road hazards, Ivey said.

“The last time, there was such a glaze,” he said, and this time, the best traction is where the snow is deepest and vehicles are getting stuck on high center in the middle of the road instead of spinning out.

Extra crews were called in to help respond to stuck ambulances across Oklahoma City. The crews are in four-wheel drive vehicles as they go to places where ambulances are stuck to try to free the vehicles and rescue stranded paramedics.

A fire truck got stuck about 10:30 a.m. at 1412 SW 96, fire Deputy Chief Cecil Clay said.

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