SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The City of Shreveport has formed a unique new partnership with a local Jeep club to help first responders and frontline workers get where they need to go the next time severe winter weather hits.
The collaboration comes one year after the historic winter storms of February 2022, which made it difficult for many police officers, fire department employees, health care workers, and other frontline workers to get where they needed to go.
“Transportation was the biggest hurdle that we had to cross. We were having difficulty getting around ourselves because many of our vehicles, police vehicles and fire vehicles were just not equipped, not designed to deal with that kind of harsh conditions,” said Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith.
The Bossier City-based Trail Lizards Jeep Club stepped up to rescue stranded drivers all over Shreveport during the winter storms. The formal partnership announced Wednesday will make it easier for the “jeepers” in the future, giving them a more structured and formal way to communicate and organize rescue efforts through a dispatching system coordinated by SPD.
Chief Smith said the partnership with the riding club is intended to provide more manpower to meet the demand.
With more than 100 members, some with multiple Jeeps, the Trail Lizards will assist police and fire personnel and employees at local hospitals, dialysis clinics, and other medical facilities when called upon.
“If it means pairing up with them for rescue, for a life and death situation, maybe somebody having a medical emergency that we can’t get medical service to them, we’d be able to get into them,” said Trail Lizards representative Thomas Glenn.
“First responders can’t do it alone, government can’t do it alone. We need the citizens to be right along aside of us so that we can best serve our city and make sure that Shreveport is stronger,” Mayor Adrian Perkins said in a news conference detailing the partnership.
“The way that we become most prepared is not just the city taking care of our responsibilities and making sure our first responders are prepared, but also with all things public safety, partnering up with the citizens of Shreveport.”
According to Chief Smith, the partnership has been in the planning stages for about two months.
“It took longer to learn that there was a Jeep club than it did to work out the details of the partnership,” Smith joked Tuesday of the relatively quick two months it took to plan the collaboration after they learned of the club’s existence and willingness to take on a more official role in future winter weather emergencies.