By Jeff Wagner

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – If you think you’re having trouble navigating these snow-covered streets, put yourselves in the shoes of a first responder.

They say they’re running into problems as they try to squeeze their firetrucks and ambulances between parked cars, and it’s something they feel drivers can help solve.

Moving aside to give oncoming traffic a chance to drive through is a common courtesy on city streets when parked cars line both curbs. It gets tougher with snow on the ground since the streets become narrower.

Put a firetruck in that position and it’s a busted side view mirror waiting to happen.

“If there’s cars parked on both sides of the street that can be increasingly difficult for them to make those turns because they have to have a little bit wider turning range,” said Deputy Chief Stacy Hohertz, St. Paul Fire Department.

She’s navigated these problems before and said they’ve had to change their routes or slow to a crawl to keep from scraping a parked car. This happens while rushing to a call.

“If we’re spending a great amount of time trying to get to the address, in the end it could affect the result, whether it’s a fire and the fire continues to grow because we’re not there to put it out or if it’s some sort of medical emergency that we’re not able to get there and administer care,” she said.

Then there’s the issue of snow on sidewalks or stairways, which is why they bring their own salt, sand and shovels. Paramedics say it’s especially difficult when trying to roll a gurney onto a property.

Deputy Chief Hohertz and other first responders want people to clear their walkways and sidewalks, but most importantly make the jobs for city plow drivers easier.

“It’s imperative that when snow emergencies are called that residents do their best to make sure they move their cars so the road can be cleared,” she said.

If roads are plowed properly, cars can park closer to the curb.

Both the City of St. Paul and Minneapolis can enact “winter parking restrictions,” when parking is only allowed on one side of the street. A City of Minneapolis spokesman said complying with the snow emergencies makes the need for winter parking restrictions less likely.

Jeff Wagner