Here’s how the Minnesota National Guard is preparing to help stranded drivers

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Stationed throughout the state, Minnesota National Guard soldiers are ready to respond to stranded drivers.

Following Gov. Tim Walz declaring a peacetime emergency on Tuesday, which authorizes the Minnesota National Guard to prepare and work through this winter storm.

The Minnesota National Guard operates 58 armories across the state — all of which are ready to take in travelers in need.

“What will happen is we’ll receive a call from the county sheriff, they’ll also work through Homeland Security [and] emergency management — because we work in very close coordination with them — and they’re the ones that will typically dictate our missions that we will respond to,” said Col. Scott Rohweder, Minnesota National Guard director of operations.

Rohweder is based at the St. Paul armory inside their Joint Operation Center, where they’re able to track the entire state. He said they have “small unit vehicles” at 17 armory locations. They’re also called “SUS-Vs” and have tracks like a snowmobile to easily maneuver through the harshest winter conditions. Attached to the SUS-Vs are enclosed and heated trailers that can fit several rescued people.  

This image provided by the Minnesota National Guard shows a “small unit vehicle,” or SUS-V. (Courtesy of the Minnesota National Guard)

According to the Minnesota National Guard, there have been 24 SUS-V rescue missions since 2008 — this winter has included 11 of those rescues.

“For those people that do [have to travel], they can feel safe knowing that the guard’s prepared to respond if needed,” Rohweder said.

And while they might have military vehicles to respond, Minnesota State Troopers have been and will continue to be out responding to crashes and spin-outs. As of Wednesday night, there have already been dozens of both with much more snow to fall.

“Our ultimate goal is to get the message out: [Don’t] take this lightly,” said Lt. Gordon Shank, spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol.

“Whether it’s changing a tire, someone that is stranded, has vehicle issues, whatever it may be, our troopers are ready to go there,” Shank added.  “We plan for this. We prepare for this. We’ve been through this before, but we don’t want to be out there in that situation as much as the driver that’s out there.”

If you do need to travel, Shank suggests checking your route frist with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 511 map.