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Kent Co. responds to more than a thousand 911 calls as winter weather bears down

Thursday's totals will likely grow as snow continued to fall, underscoring the need, first-responders said, to take precautions.

MICHIGAN, USA — First-responders across West Michigan had their hands full responding to numerous accidents as the work week came to a close.

Kent County Central Dispatch said it had received some one-thousand emergency calls Thursday, 529 of which were 911 calls, in addition to 548 non-emergency calls.

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to around 50 more calls for assistance than they would ordinarily, attributing the surge to inclement weather.

Michigan State Police, meanwhile, said 6th district troopers, who cover Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties, responded to 75 accidents, not including slide-offs, over a 48-hour period ending Friday afternoon.

First-responders advised West Michiganders not to venture out unless necessary as the snow continued to fall Friday evening.

The first major snowfall event of the season, agencies said, often serves as a reminder to drivers of the need to alter habits.

“Really, at the end of the day, the driver is the most important safety feature of the car,” Sergeant Dan Hibler of the Norton Shores Police Department noted. “We have anti-lock brake systems, we have traction control, seat belts, but at the end of the day, if we can just be cautious and slow down a little bit, it'll go a long ways.”

Michigan State Police, in turn, suggested drivers take the following precautions:

  • Ensure cars have been thoroughly cleared of snow prior to departure.
  • Fully defrost windshield.
  • Ensure tires have suitable tread depth and are fully inflated.
  • Leave an appropriate distance between cars.
  • Tailor speeds to match conditions.
  • Pack an emergency kit including flares, a blanket and other cold-weather necessities.

“We are just in the beginning stages of our winter driving and so now is a good time to start those positive driving habits and to use caution on the roadway,” Lieutenant Michelle Robinson of the Michigan State Police related. “Especially if you see emergency vehicles or a disabled vehicle on the side of the road.”

Lake effect snow was expected to continue falling through Friday evening and several winter weather alerts remain in place.

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