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‘Pit crew’ helps paramedics respond to 911 calls

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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR) -- When a firefighter or paramedic gets behind the wheel of a fire truck or ambulance, they know someone needs their help.

But when you have road conditions like we have the past two days, even a 36-ton, 42-foot long fire truck can have problems.

"Even though it's very heavy, it will slide on ice, so you have to take it easy" firefighter Kevin Smith said.

Smith, who has been with the Colonial Heights Fire Department for 12 years, said it is tough they cannot respond as quickly as they normally would, knowing someone has called 911.

However, first responders must keep their crews' safety top of mind, too.

"Well you know they called, they need our help and you know you want to get there quickly but you have to get there and get there safely," Smith said. "That means we have to slow down and make sure we get there first, so we can help them."

The Colonial Heights Fire Department also implemented their "pit crew," which consists of two firefighters who respond to EMS calls in their 4-wheel drive brush truck.

While paramedics check on the patient, the "pit crew" clears a path out from the home to the ambulance in the driveway.

That way when the paramedics go to leave with the patient on the stretcher, they have a safe path to get to the ambulance.