Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge and Anniston police Capt. Allen George said they have pulled in as many people as they could to help with the high number of accidents on the roadways.
George said because the Anniston city roads have been officially closed, officers are only checking for injuries. Partridge also said his department has only been answering emergency calls and reports of accidents with injuries.
Anniston fire Lt. Bryan Tumlin said firefighters have responded to 10 wrecks since 10 a.m. but none of the injuries were life-threatening.
Tumlin said the backed-up traffic has affected how long it takes them to respond to a call. Normally their response time is three to four minutes, he said. Now, it might be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
“Right now the biggest problem is the traffic, it’s not so much the road conditions,” Tumlin said. “There are so many people on the road that they’re sliding and getting stuck and it’s blocking a lot of the ways that we need to go to answer calls. The best thing people can do right now is get home and stay home. Emergency vehicles really need to be able to get to people who need the help.”
Oxford fire Chief Gary Sparks agreed with Tumlin’s suggestion for those on the roadways.
“They need to get off the roads and stay inside,” he said.
Much like Anniston, Oxford’s response time has also slowed because of the conditions. Sparks said the roads in Oxford have been bad all day, but by 2:30 p.m. they were “deteriorating rapidly.”
Sparks said firefighters have responded to more than 20 calls since 10 a.m., and have also been trying to help the teachers and students stuck in Oxford City Schools get home.
George did not have an exact number as to how many accidents have been reported to Anniston police so far, but said there have been multiple wrecks reported.
Partridge said all the accidents Oxford officers have responded to have been minor.
Emergency room workers at Regional Medical Center said early this afternoon they have treated a few patients with injuries from accidents related to the snow, but none of the injuries were life-threatening. Stringfellow Memorial Hospital had not seen any before 3 p.m.
Partridge has had a phone glued to his ear all day, according to Oxford Lt. L.G. Owens. When asked how busy the department is been, Partridge said, “Busy is an understatement. We have double staff right now.”
According to the chief, all eight of their Humvees have been brought out and their patrol cars are running with chains.
Anniston officers have also put chains on their patrol cars and brought out their Humvees, George said. The captain said the department also has a four-wheeler, but they hadn’t brought it out by noon.
The captain said investigators and Housing Authority officers have been helping patrol officers respond to accidents.
“We’ve got everybody that we possibly can,” George said.
Efforts to reach officials with the Jacksonville Police Department and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office were not immediately successful Tuesday afternoon.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.