SARATOGA SPRINGS — During the 2 1/2 hours sitting in the family car, Robyn Frampton and her children noticed something they didn't expect to see in last Wednesday's fierce winter storm: police officers who seemed caught by surprise by the sudden onslaught of snow and wind.

"My son noticed the police officers who seemed to know what they were doing," Frampton said. "(Some) didn't have their gloves on, it was obvious that everyone was in a hurry. Nobody was really prepared for it."

One of the lucky few, Frampton, who was on her way home southbound on Redwood Road, was escorted with several other cars past 400 North and was able to get home in a reasonable time.

After their experience, Frampton and her children decided to do something for the members of the police force and fire and rescue teams who stood through the storms from four to six hours helping, directing and bearing the brunt of angry people.

On Tuesday morning, the family gave the police department tokens of appreciation: free pizzas, gym membership discounts, cases of Gatorade, gloves and anything local businesses were willing to donate.

Thankful for the gifts, Saratoga Springs Police Chief Gary Hicken said Tuesday that all of the 11 police officers and seven firefighters the city had out that night saw a wide range of emotions during the storm.

"All of us ran across a lot of people who were patient and commending," he said. "(We saw) other people who were really angry and impatient. (Something like this) really tests their character."

Hicken said Saratoga Springs had help from officers with the Utah Highway Patrol, as well as officers who were on their way home from work in Sandy and Orem.

Several of the officers were at the police station for a meeting and unprepared to stand in a snowstorm with 70 mph winds. Hicken said he understood why people were frustrated with the stopped traffic. At the intersection of Redwood Road and state Route 73 the storm didn't seem that bad, but farther up both roads, several accidents and huge drifts caused the stoppage.

Roads in Saratoga Springs were opened at about 11 p.m. when Hicken decided people would be able to make it home, the drifts were only about mid-hubcap on small cars instead of above the windshield.

"I saw the last car clear the intersection (Redwood Road and S.R. 73) at 12:30," he said. He added that there were probably a lot of people who gave up before the roads were opened and estimated that several thousand people were stuck on their way to Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain.

Hicken said the department learned three major things from the snowstorm: snow barrier fences would have helped keep the drifts off S.R. 73, a nearby farm owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a tractor that could have helped them pull cars to the sides of the road to disperse the accident scenes and the police should always have emergency gear including gloves, extra pants and coats in their trunks in case of some disaster.

Police commended the emergency workers who worked for hours to get those injured out of the scene.

The emergency crew "kept their cool," said Saratoga Springs Sgt. Kerry Cole.


E-mail: csmith@desnews.com