When seconds count, snowstorms can slow first responders, especially in rural Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Road conditions during winter storms can be challenge for drivers, but also for first responders when called to emergencies. 

On Thursday, a 76-year-old man was trapped after he flipped his vehicle into a creek east of Lincoln, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.

He spent about 20 minutes in the water before he was able to get himself out.

The sheriff’s office said roads conditions might played a part in the crash, but also made the rescue a challenge.

“It’s tough getting there,” Sheriff Terry Wagner said. “It’s tough getting to the scene and then having fire personnel get there and take care of the medical issues. It just compounds to difficulty.”

And it can be especially challenging in rural areas.

“We are prepared in the sense that we have equipment to help extricate and get someone out of that water as soon as possible,” Bennet Fire Chief Tim Norris said. 

But the concern for rural and volunteer departments during freezing temperatures is being able to give a quick response. 

“That biggest concern would be to how quickly we can get them into a warm space and get them warm and dry as soon as possible,” Norris said. 

He said the department has equipment to rescue people from cars that go into ditches or small bodies of water.

But as far as more serious water rescues and ice rescues, Bennet and other rural departments have to rely on bigger departments like Lincoln. 

“The departments that have ice rescue teams or are in the process of building them, they have to get special suits, special equipment,” Norris said. “But for someone to do that, they actually have to be trained and certified.” 

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