Most Iowans heeded warnings to stay off the roads during this week’s blizzard, but statistics from the State Patrol show law officers were still extremely busy helping stranded motorists. Courtney Greene, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, says the Patrol has six communications centers.
“On a typical day, the communications centers across Iowa average 766 emergency calls,” Greene said. “That number more than doubled over the last few days.” On Tuesday, dispatchers processed 1,625 emergency calls. Then on Wednesday, they took an additional 2,100 calls. Many of those calls came from motorists who were involved in crashes or were stuck in a snow drift.
“So far, preliminary reports indicate that troopers responded to at least 70 motor vehicle accidents and performed at least 175 motorist assists,” Greene said. The increase in calls for help meant a boost in staffing levels, which presents a challenge for the Patrol. Troopers are required to take five days off, without pay, to help trim 10-percent from the Department of Public Safety’s budget.
Greene says around 200 troopers worked around the clock to cleanup accidents, assist motorists and help close dangerous roadways. One trooper’s patrol car was hit by a passing on Interstate-35 near Webster City. The trooper only sustained minor injuries.