North and Central Whidbey first responders stayed busy Monday morning as snow and ice descended upon Whidbey Island.
However, Oak Harbor officials said they had fewer calls than they were expecting.
Deputy Chief Charlie Smith, of Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue, said the district more than doubled its average rate of daily calls Monday.
Starting in the early morning hours, Central Whidbey Fire received 12 calls when it normally averages three to five in a day, he said.
The count didn’t include reports that weren’t completed as of Tuesday morning.
Four of those calls were car accidents directly related to the icy conditions. A rollover on Engle Road resulted in two patients transported to WhidbeyHealth Medical Center with minor injuries. The others were non-injury incidents.
Smith said the main challenge was ensuring the district’s vehicles didn’t add to the hazards.
Monday morning, firefighters wereputting chains on some of the vehicles as they were also slipping on the icy roads, Smith said.
Road conditions also slowed response times.
Smith said responders didn’t use lights or sirens Monday because of concerns other cars may end up sliding off the road if they pulled over too quickly.
“Everybody’s having a hard time staying in the lane already,” he said. “We’re trying to be mindful and not create more problems then we’re trying to solve.”
It’s helpful for people to stay off the roads, if possible, Smith said. Though most main roadways are clear, side roads in shady areas still present a danger, especially of black ice.
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Mark Kirko said the district received about seven calls for non-injury car accidents.
The most significant accident involved a propane truck that slid through the intersection of Hunt and East Crescent Harbor roads, hitting a telephone pole.
There were no propane leaks or injuries reported.
Though responders were busier with a higher call volume, Kirko said he was relieved none of the accidents were serious. He urged drivers to be particularly wary at intersections, because they tend to ice over more quickly.
Oak Harbor Fire Chief Ray Merrill said firefighters responded to two minor car accidents with no reported injuries.
He said it’s possible that lighter traffic played a role in keeping the number of accidents to a minimum.
“We were just really fortunate,” Merrill said.