Working in the cold: how Iowa State Troopers stay safe

QUAD CITIES, Iowa (KWQC) – Safety Education Officer Trooper Dan Loussaert is usually sharing how to keep us safe. But Tuesday morning several accidents left him and other law enforcement officers out in the cold. Today the spotlight was turned to his own safety and that of fellow law enforcement officers.

“Boy standing up on the bridge when it's 15 below zero and a little breeze it didn't take very long at all, and you kind of understand how frostbite and hypothermia, how it can set in pretty quickly,” said the Iowa State Patrol officer.

He and other troopers responded to three accidents on the I80 Bridge this morning. It left them standing out in feel-like temperatures well below zero.

“Working on the crash all together it was probably two hours plus,” Loussaert said.

He says bundling up is of the utmost importance.

“We have a parka in the car, and we have hats…stocking caps and gloves,” Loussaert said of their cold weather gear.

He says it is important to get those on right away.

“It’s easier to stay warm then try to get warmed up, so when you have incidents like this you get out and you make sure you put your gear on right away, or as soon as possible,” the trooper said.

He says moving around a scene can also help, adding that he was not directly in the cold all through this morning's accidents.

“You’re getting in and out of the car, you're getting in the ambulance, you’re in and out of the weather. Unfortunately you're outside a lot more than you are inside.”

And while all of these tips are important to preventing things like frostbite and hypothermia, the Iowa State Trooper says self-care needs to be a part of working in cold temperatures too.

“Like my boss says, make sure you get your breaks in,” Loussaert said. “Take care of yourself. You're not going to help anybody else if you're not taking care of yourself.”