The Missouri Army National Guard lent a hand to local St. Louis County police this week in the midst of snow and ice. Guardsmen used 14 Humvees and 28 soldiers to transport officers, including the 3rd and 4th Precincts in Affton and Mehlville.
Guardsmen primarily teamed up with local first responders and transported police officers when needed. They also helped stranded motorists and performed health and wellness checks, said Capt. Dustin Berry. Berry is the battle captain of the 70th Troop Command whose primary job during the storm was heading logistics operations.
“If anyone needed help we were there to link them up to local responders and did a little EMT support. We'd take a paremedic and first responder out there if the ambulance couldn’t make it,” Berry said.
Even though St. Louis County didn’t get as much snow as anticipated, Berry said the ice was crippling.
“This kind of weather makes it tough for us to get around,” said Police Sgt. Jeff Hoots, of the 4th Precinct on Telegraph Road. “So these National Guard soldiers and their humvees will assist us in getting to certain areas within our precinct that we might not be able to reach in a normal patrol vehicle.”
The soldiers came from the 70th Troop Command which serves 37 counties and the City of St. Louis, headquartered at Jefferson Barracks.
Along with assisting police, the Guard removed debris and provided general transport for officials. They performed door-to-door safety visits and cleared emergency routes for first responders, helping them getting to work.
“Our officers have been having a lot of trouble in some of these subdivisions--getting their patrol cars stuck,” said Capt. Michael Dierkes, of the Affton Precinct. “We do have some four-wheel drive vehicles, but we could use more.”
Gov. Nixon activated the National Guardsman when he declared a state of emergency on Monday. Jefferson Barracks served as an operations base and ran 24 hours a day from Monday until Wednesday.
The base also sent out the 1138th Transportation Company based out of Jefferson Barracks to Hannibal, which received 20-24 inches of snow.
The city’s emergency management director, John Hark, said the soldiers worked all night and day to help police officers get to emergency calls.
“Without the National Guard, we would simply not be getting to some of these calls for service," he said.
In the last five years, the National Guard has been called out approximately 12 times, Berry said.