(Chicago) There's been a lot of second-guessing when it comes to what happened on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard. Although the vast majority of those trapped in their cars praised the emergency response, some still question why paramedics waited so long to rescue motorists.
It reminds me of covering hurricanes on the Atlantic coast, many years ago, when I worked for WVEC-TV (ABC) in Norfolk, Virginia. When hurricanes threatened the coast, emergency management bosses ordered mandatory evacuations.
Inevitably, there'd always be some who refused to leave their homes, taking the risky gamble of riding the storm out. Top emergency response directors tried to warn folks about the dangers of staying behind.
If winds reach hurricane force and you get in trouble, they'd say, you can call 911. But the reality is that choppers don't fly in those kinds of dangerous conditions. And ambulances can't drive in those kinds of winds (because they'll flip over). Not to mention the danger of downed power lines or storm surge. People don't like to hear this, but there are certain situations where it is not always possible for someone to come and rescue you.
Which brings us back to Lake Shore Drive. With 25 foot waves battering the shore, and winds approaching category 1 Hurricane force, there's no doubt people were in a life-threatening predicament. It was hugely dangerous for firefighters to venture out onto LSD. A piece of flying glass or debris becomes a deadly projectile, in those kinds of conditions. But despite the threat, paramedics and firefighters went into harms way, going car-to-car checking on people, reassuring them that they hadn't been forgotten. And in the beginning, the decision was made (under trying circumstances) to keep people in their cars (because it would have been too dangerous to try and pull people out in those kinds of winds).
So if you think the emergency management of the situation was mishandled, talk to the U.S. Coast Guard or veteran emergency response specialists on the Atlantic coast. They don't go out in 70 mph winds (because it puts the crews lives at risk).
If you give it some thought, I think you'll quickly realize that Chicago's finest did everything in their power to prevent loss of life. And in the end, no one died or was seriously hurt.