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Emergency Response Times Delayed as Mayor Urges NYC to Stay off Roads

 Mayor Bill de Blasio gave an update on the city's response to the snowstorm on Jan. 3, 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio gave an update on the city's response to the snowstorm on Jan. 3, 2014.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

WOODSIDE — Thick layers of snow on the roads hampered emergency service response times on Friday, as Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to stay off the roads for their own safety and to allow the city's Sanitation Department to keep working.

"The average at this moment is a one-minute delay per run,” de Blasio said at a Friday morning press conference at a sanitation facility in Queens. He called the lag time "slight" and added, “Ambulances have been outfitted with chains or cables for traction. They're making their calls, they're getting through but there's a slight delay. From everything I’ve heard, everything is functioning well.”

 New Yorkers woke up to several inches of snow Friday after the first major storm of the winter.
Snow Wallops City in First Storm of Year
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Still, de Blasio urged New Yorkers to stay home and warned that prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures could be hazardous to the young, elderly or vulnerable.

"It's deceptively cold," de Blasio said, as below freezing temperatures were set to drop as evening approached. The mayor warned residents about venturing too far from home, and even cautioned would-be sledders and skiers to curtail their winter activities.

“We’re going to have a lot of snow this winter. There’ll be other opportunities to get out there and have fun, but hopefully in temperatures that aren’t quite this brutal,” de Blasio said.

Standing alongside Sanitation Department Commissioner John Doherty and the head of the sanitation workers union Harry Nespoli, de Blasio said city workers had plowed 100 percent of the primary roads in the city and over 90 percent of the remaining roadways. Some 2,400 vehicles were deployed in all five boroughs and were continuing to keep streets clear in the face of blowing snow, according to the mayor.

Motorists were also warned to be on the lookout for icy conditions on the roads this evening.

“When that temperature drops down 4 or 5 degrees, it’s going to tighten up,” Doherty warned, adding that black ice looks deceptively similar to asphalt.

De Blasio announced that alternate side parking would remain suspended for the remainder of Friday and for Saturday as well, but New Yorkers will have to continue to feed the meters.