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To save more lives

By Staff | Apr 8, 2008

EMMETSBURG — Dignitaries from around Iowa were on hand Saturday for the dedication of the new Regional Emergency Response Training Center at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg.

The three-story facility was built with two state grants awarded in 2006 and 2007. The structure will simulate some of the situations emergency personnel face when responding to a fire.

The building includes a three-story tower so first responders can practice rappelling, a residential section with varied pitch roof to practice attic ventilation, a ground floor featuring a single-story unit, and a second story with small burn room and movable walls.

The center is one of just 11 in the state and the only one in northwest Iowa.

Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon also received funding through the grants. The facility is located on the northwest portion of the Emmetsburg campus. NCC bought a training trailer with its funding.

Iowa Lakes President Dr. Harold Prior lauded the efforts of the fire and EMT personnel attending the 16th annual Iowa Lakes Regional School and EMS Conference at the Emmetsburg campus Saturday, some of whom were present for the ceremony dedicating the new training center.

“You folks are the real heroes in what we do here in this fire school day,” Prior said.

Prior recognized Senator Jack Kibbie, Representative Marcie Frevert, and Representative Delores Mertz. Others attending were Fire Service Training Bureau Chief Randy Novak, Jim Kenkel of the state Fire Marshal’s office; Lynn Kueck of the board of trustees; Emmetsburg campus Dean Tom Brotherton; and Steve Dobbins, programmer of Fire and EMS training.

Prior also thanked NCC as a partner in the fire and EMS training program effort. “We really appreciate all those folks being here,” Prior said.

Prior also thanked Christensen Construction of Estherville for its work on the building.

Kueck, who also serves as Algona mayor, underlined the importance of using the facility.

“We need training and we need good facilities to do that training,” Kueck said. “The key now is how to use the building.” He said he hoped that area fire departments would come to the center for their training sessions.

“The process is a work in progress,” Frevert said of training at the facility. Frevert noted that she serves 25 communities and that she appreciated what firefighters and EMS personnel did. “You aren’t just volunteers. You are higher-level volunteers,” she said.

“I want to thank all of you for what you do,” Kibbie told firefighters present. “We’ve discussed over the years doing something more for our firefighters.”

One of those efforts, said Kibbie, was legislation passed two years ago to appropriate $200,000 to families of volunteer firemen killed in the line of duty.

Dobbins thanked the legislators and advisory committee for their efforts in making the center a reality. He also offered thanks to the Fire Service Training Bureau staff.

Novak congratulated Iowa Lakes on the opening of the training center.

“Education and training typically define every profession,” Novak said. He said refining fire services critical skill sets was essential before crews go out to fight fires.

“The training is critical and I think it’s very important to see these emergency response training centers come together,” Novak said. “We don’t know what tomorrow’s emergencies may bring. But this allows us to train for those emergencies.”

Kenkel said the center would help firefighters learn what they need to learn in order to return home safely after fighting a fire.