Emergency teams complete wind turbine rescue training - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Emergency teams complete wind turbine rescue training

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DELAWARE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Following a deadly accident involving a grain bin earlier this week, emergency teams are continuing their training for high-risk rescues.

This time, local fire and EMS teams are training for medical emergencies at the top of a wind turbine. In an emergency rescue involving a turbine, not only is it high risk, but it is also very different for the firefighters and EMS because they aren't able to get inside the turbine.

At the top of a 350-foot tall wind turbine, the technicians themselves are actually the first line of response.

"When I go up there, Zach is responsible if something happens to me, and I am responsible for him. We take that seriously," said Joshua More, a lead technician for Elk Wind in Delaware County.

The technicians are trained to be able get their partner into and down the more-than 10-minute elevator ride, while also calling for help.

"We found out already that, when they called up tower on a certain turbine, it went to Clayton County.  And when they called up tower on another turbine, it went to Delaware County, like it was supposed to. So, you need to have practices to be able to understand where your calls are going, and the people on the other end know who they have to call to say, 'Hey, Delaware you are closer. You need to get there,'" said RPM Access Project Manager, Kevin Lehs.

During Wednesday's training, all five calls from the technician to dispatch successfully reached Delaware.  Edgewood and Greeley Fire & EMS teams were then able to meet the technicians at the base of the turbine to take over medical care.

Because of the dangers of the tower, the first responders can't go in the tower, making communication important.

"We have our procedures and policies in place, so everybody understands what needs to go on. It builds the team work, so everybody knows what their jobs are when they get to these emergency situations," said Greeley Fire Chief, David Pierschbacher.

The victim then has to be handed off one more time to the LifeGuard Air Ambulance.  The total rescue takes roughly 30 minutes.

Eventually, the wind energy companies in the area want to get the firefighters trained to be able to go up into the tower, in case a  rescue requires extra help at the top.

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