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Ice an enduring headache for responders

LAWRENCEVILLE — It’s a common theme this week: Emergency personnel trying to reach Point B from Point A are tripped up by the variable that is ice.

It’s a persistent headache, but one that officials hope will dissipate as temperatures nudge back toward average January highs in the low-50s.

Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said Thursday morning that so many ambulances and fire apparatuses have gotten stuck responding to emergencies, it’s been difficult to log them all.

“That’s happened so many times,” he said. “We’re confident that these types of situations will decrease as the road conditions begin to improve.”

One instance Wednesday afternoon at a Norcross apartment complex involved a pregnant woman who was being transported via ambulance for hospital care, until the ambulance tried to navigate a hill, slid in the ice and became stuck, Rutledge said.

Crews requested a second ambulance to the Beaver Springs Lane complex, which transported the woman to an area hospital, Rutledge said.

“Patient care was not interrupted, and the patient was not in any danger,” he said.

Firefighters used shovels and rock salt to break ice and eventually free the ambulance. Rutledge said he couldn’t disclose the woman’s injury or updated medical condition due to patient privacy laws.

Despite the complications and stranded vehicles, Rutledge said no Gwinnett County Fire Department apparatuses have been significantly damaged.

“Unfortunately, our vehicles are so heavy that if a wheel gets off the roadway, it’s pretty much stuck. We have to call a wrecker or sand truck,” he said. “Unlike most people on the roads, we have to be out there.”