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Volunteer fire department gets two new self contained breathing apparatus units

Donation of a self contained breathing apparatus unit ... Each carbon-based, bypass unit comes with a primary compressed air bottle, a pre-filled spare bottle, a face mask with LED read-out of the amount of air remaining and a motion sensor locator alarm that progressively gets louder the longer the wearer is down or does not move. Pictured, from left: Matt Reckling, Philip Volunteer Fire Department chief, Jay Baxter, Philip location manager for Midwest Cooperative, and Chad Wrightson, director of safety and compliance for Midwest Cooperative.

"Hope you never have to use it," was the first comment by Midwest Cooperative's Philip site manager Jay Baxter in presenting a new self contained breathing apparatus (CSBA) unit to the Philip Volunteer Fire Department.

The $5,425 unit was supplemented by another unit purchased by the PVFD. Each carbon-based, bypass unit comes with a primary compressed air bottle, a prefilled spare bottle, a face mask with LED read-out of the amount of air remaining and a motion sensor locator alarm that progressively gets louder the longer the wearer is down or does not move.

"As soon as we got them, they were ready to roll," said Fire Chief Matt Reckling.

"First responders are people too. If we (co-op workers) get into a jam, we have to worry about our first responders, too," said Baxter. "It's hard for a small fire department to afford the equipment needed. We are worried about our patrons out in the country, too. Things are changing out there and we need to change."

Referring to Chad Wrightson, Pierre, director of safety and compliance for Midwest, Baxter said, "I never knew how dangerous a job I have until these corporate guys started a local, state and national push for safety. They say fifty percent of the deaths in confined spaces are rescuers." In 2010, 28 people died in grain elevator-type work.

Wrightson is in charge of safety for the co-op. He said that the company will fund Safety and Technical Rescue Association (SATRA) training. SATRA is a national, non-profit association of experienced, highly trained emergency responders, such as firefighters, emergency medical personnel and environmental hazard experts. Locally, Lucas Mayfield, Philip, has taken the training and will give points to responders. Wrightson said, "It's good training - different scenarios from who needs to be rescued and the rescuer." He stressed the dangers of confined spaces and grain elevators, and encouraged everyone to call for safety advice. "Confined spaces are everywhere," said Wrightson.

Reckling, speaking for PVFD members, said, "Everybody is interested in this training. This is the call that everybody around here is worried about."