Answering the call
Local responders train for rare rescues
Emergency responders from the fire departments in Clay County were joined by members of the Sioux Rapids unit for specialized training at the Clay County Regional Events Center over the weekend.
Professional Rescue Innovations, in partnership with the Fire Service Training Bureau, provided specialty training for big rig and agricultural emergency situations.
"There are low frequency, high risk scenarios," Jerry Essick, operator and trainer with PRI, said. "On either one of these, you don't get the opportunity to train in most cases. ... These are more technical rescues."
He added, "It's scarce and the only time you see it is out on the emergency."
Essick said the training provides responders an opportunity to train together with those they will likely serve with if called to a similar situation. Essick did acknowledge every situation is different but suggested the training the firefighters received provides them with a framework to operate within when faced with an accident scene involving the elements.
Denny Klett, with the Spencer Fire Department, worked to help coordinate the local training. He said working side-by-side with the area department is invaluable.
"After last year's training, we thought it would be a good idea to do this every year," Klett said, referencing last year's one-day grain bin rescue training with PRI. "We wanted to make it a great training for whole county."
This year's county-wide effort involved both classroom training along with a more hands-on approach to each circumstance.
Use of the Events Center allows the group to bring in actual implements, semi trucks and vehicles and work in a controlled environment.
"It sure beats being outside," Klett said, noting the weather over the weekend.
Combines, augers, round bailers and a full-size semi truck with trailer were used inside the center's main auditorium. More than 80 firefighters participated in the Saturday, Sunday training sessions.
"There's no playbook for anything we do," Klett said. "A lot of times when we're out there we're figuring it out as we go. Good to have time for brainstorming and problem solving."
"From the time a department gets the call for the accident, they have something called 'the golden hour.' We need to have a patient there (at an emergency care facility) within that hour," Essick said.
With time of the essence, all parties involved in the training know the importance of working together.
"A lot of departments work together," Tim Sylvester, Webb Fire Chief and President of the Clay County Fire Chief's Association, said. "Our standard protocol in this county is two departments are called. With volunteer departments, they're not always there, so you send two. This is a chance to work side-by-side with the guy who you'll be working side-by-side with."
"Everybody gets an idea of what we have; we find out what they have," Klett said.
Sylvester said the two-day commitment demonstrated the local volunteer firefighters' willingness to train to serve the people in Clay County.
"Last year we did grain bin rescue, which doesn't happen often, but when it does we need to be ready. We're in an agricultural community," Sylvester said.
"After talking with the fire chiefs and Jerry, we look forward to doing it again next year and maybe add a couple of trainings," Klett said.
Essick, a firefighter with 27 years on the job, currently with the West Des Moines Fire Department, started the training company in 1999. The organization provides training to agencies throughout the state of Iowa.
He said possible scenarios for next year's training could include trench rescue, rope rescues, and some of the more rare and technical rescues.
"When I leave, I'm hoping they've got the knowledge and skill to have a successful, safe rescue," Essick said.
Funding to help offset the costs associated with the training comes from the Volunteer Firefighters Training Fund through the Fire Service Training Bureau.