Volunteers help Stutsman County Sheriff's Office during winter storms
Sheriff Chad Kaiser said the help allows for a quicker response.
JAMESTOWN – Volunteers have helped the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office during snowstorms this winter to assist the agency in having a quicker response, according to Sheriff Chad Kaiser.
Duane Andersen, who lives about 2 miles southwest of Jamestown, and the Woodworth Fire Department, which consists of all volunteers, have helped get stranded motorists during the blizzard-like conditions.
“Without those guys, it would make our job a lot, lot harder and people would just have to wait until we get there,” Kaiser said.
He said the volunteers may not get called to all incidents in Stutsman County but they are called if the Sheriff’s Office is busy in another area and cannot respond to the scene right away.
Kaiser said Andersen was called during the most recent snowstorm to help a stranded motorist about 1.5 miles south of Jamestown Regional Medical Center on 81st Avenue Southeast.
“Chad knows he can call me if he needs some sort of help like that,” Andersen said.
During that call, the Sheriff’s Office had to respond to an incident involving domestic violence.
“Their vehicle was running. They had heat,” he said, referring to the stranded motorist. “We left that area and Duane went out and snowblowed a trail for him to get turned around and get back to the main road.”
Andersen said a motorist from Minnesota who was traveling to Washington got his pickup hauling a 16-foot enclosed trailer stuck in knee-deep snow. He said it appeared the motorist was trying to take a secondary road because Interstate 94 was closed.
He said he was asked to take his tractor and snowblower to help the stranded motorist.
“I took my tractor over there and blew the snow out to him and pulled him out and then I went down a quarter of a mile and went into a neighbor’s yard and plowed his two driveways, so I plowed in one and came back out the other one,” he said. “The guy went in there and turned around and then I plowed a path going back up to the Interstate where the hospital is at. I believe he went back to Jamestown to stay.”
With a potential winter storm looming early next week, volunteers with the Woodworth Fire Department are preparing to help stranded motorists, said Steve Scarbrough, fire chief. He said they make sure there are plenty of blankets and water and all equipment is filled with gas.
“(We) make sure everything is ready to roll because when the call comes out you don’t take 10, 15, 20 minutes to get ready,” he said. “When the call comes out, you jump in and go because it’s life threatening.”
Volunteers with the Woodworth Fire Department have responded to help several stranded motorists near the Woodworth area during all of the snowstorms, Scarbrough said.
“That was from the first blizzard all the way until the last one,” he said. “We’ve been doing it nonstop through all the storms, all the blizzards, blowing snow, road closures. We’ve been out pretty much all of them.”
He said his crew of five volunteer firefighters – Jamie Clark, assistant fire chief and a farmer with equipment; John Buskness, a Stutsman County blade operator; Clark’s farmhands, Cody Royce and Kurt “Billy” Sather; and Scarbrough – have the equipment needed to help stranded motorists in blizzard-like conditions. He said Buskness helps push snow away so the volunteers can get to the stranded motorists and Clark has a large payloader and a snowplow for his tractor. He said the payloader is also handy to help pull semitrailers from the snow.
“If we didn’t have Jamie with the plow and the payloader and John doing it with the (blade) maintainer, we would never get them,” he said.
The volunteer firefighters also help the stranded motorists by putting them in a place to stay until the road conditions get better.
“We take really good care of them, feed them, get them drinks, make sure the heat is on everywhere,” Scarbrough said.
He said the stranded motorists are usually on Highway 36 and are trying to go around the I-94 closures by taking the secondary highway.
“They don’t understand if 94 is closed we are way worse out here in the hills,” he said.
Scarbrough said the volunteer firefighters take pride in helping others. He said firefighters and emergency medical responders are in a large “brotherhood” to help each other out.
“We will back up anybody, any call, any time, anywhere,” he said.
Andersen said he helps the Sheriff’s Office when he gets called because Kaiser was instrumental in saving his life 17 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day when he had a heart attack.
“I was home alone and I called 911 and Chad was a deputy at that time,” he said. “His wife was on the ambulance crew. Chad came out to my farm and the front door was locked, but he knew where there was another door on the side of the garage that was open and he got in and let the ambulance crew in. So, I owe him a lot.”
Kaiser said it’s difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to make the calls to have the volunteers go out in the bad weather to help.
“Thank you for helping us out when we need their help,” he said.