Before flurries began to fall on Friday, January 22, Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire Department members were arriving at the station to prepare for the forecasted storm. Extra gear, food, shovels, ice-melt, and plenty of warm layers were staged. All apparatus were fully fueled. Unit checks were completed. Coffee was brewed. With over 2 feet of snow and high winds on the way, fire and rescue operators still needed to be able to respond at a moment’s notice.
By the time shifts changed at 1800, nearly 30 volunteer personnel had arrived to staff Ambulance 511B, Engine 511, Truck 511, and Utility 511 (which was equipped with an invaluable plow). PWC Medic 511 was also staffed.
Even before any tones dropped, work needed to be done. Personnel were designated to three crews to keep doorways, ramps, and apparatus bays clear of the constantly accumulating snow. Using shovels and a snow blower, each crew swapped at hour intervals throughout Friday and Saturday to stay ahead of the snow.
Calls for service came at a constant tempo—often without breaks—throughout the weekend, day and night. Routine calls became extensive operations. Due to rapid snow accumulation, every single call required extra effort—which meant deploying U511’s plow and plenty of good old-fashioned, shovel-wielding manpower. Because the medic and ambulance could not reach snowed-in streets, crews had to be creative. Whether they turned the stokes basket into a sled or the stair chair into a litter, crews found a way to convey patients safely over hazardous conditions.
At 0025 on Sunday morning, Stonewall was called to respond to a building collapse in the 10900 block of Coverstone Dr. All the bays were emptied. Crews arrived to find an apartment building with a partial roof collapse as well as signs that an additional building was compromised. Since the two occupancies were deemed unsafe, 67 residents were evacuated and the Red Cross was dispatched to assist. A511 and M511 shuttled evacuees to Gregson Hall for temporary shelter. Around 0500, busses arrived to transport the people to a local high school for shelter.
By 0600 Monday morning Stonewall units had ran around 50 calls and shoveled untold cubic yards of snow. Over two feet of the white stuff accumulated in Sudley throughout the weekend. The department is immensely proud of the hard work and dedication of the crews who volunteered their time and efforts and is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Sudley area.