By Matt Kroschel

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– It’s a new service from the Colorado Department of Transportation that is designed to be two-fold: help stranded drivers and keep the roads clear so traffic continues to move. The patrols came in handy on Wednesday afternoon.

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A small group of CDOT Safety Patrollers hit the road to help drivers stuck in the ice and blowing snow. The patrols concentrated their efforts along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, which was snow packed and slippery on Wednesday.

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Jerek Bickford has been a part of the safety patrol force for five winters. He says things can go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds. It is something our crews witnessed firsthand while out along for a patrol.

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“Watch out! He’s sliding,” Bickford yelled as a car come sliding writhing feet into the patrol truck.

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The safety patrol was on scene and passing along information to CDOT and Colorado State Patrol dispatchers within seconds, getting westbound lanes of I-70 closed so they could help the drivers sliding off the road near the Eisenhower Tunnel.

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Luckily, everyone was safe and there were no injuries. The patrols say it isn’t always that way, drawing on experience of what they’ve seen happen.

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“It’s never the same day, conditions change so quickly,” he added.

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The safety patrol contractors have a main responsibility to get drivers out of danger. They carry chains and ropes to pull vehicles out of traffic. The goal is to keep the busy interstate open and safe.

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Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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