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Mason City Fire Department tackles training for grain bin rescues
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Mason City Fire Department tackles training for grain bin rescues

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Mason City fire department rescue 1

Firefighter Dustin Pillard is secured with a cable ahead as fellow rescue workers attempt to remove him from a corn bin during a training exercise in Mason City.

Members of the Mason City Fire Department took part in an interactive training on Friday in which a grain bin rescue was simulated.

Firefighters took turns being lowered into a bin filled with around four feet of corn. Once in the bin, the volunteer is literally stuck and unable to pull themselves out, which is what a first responder would encounter on an actual rescue call.

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Firefighter Dustin Pillard is enclosed in a tube of isolation panels as fellow rescue workers attempt to remove him from a corn bin during a training exercise in Mason City.

Instructor Don Ashenfelter of Professional Rescue Innovations, a company which provides rescue training across Iowa, guided the firefighters through the live-action scenario. 

Rescue workers are instructed to measure the approximate depth of the corn and isolate the victim in a tube made of specialized panels, then use a small auger to pump the corn out of the tube.

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Mason City fire department rescue 3

Firefighter Dustin Pillard is enclosed in a tube of isolation panels as fellow rescue workers attempt to remove him from a corn bin during a training exercise in Mason City.

Ashenfelter said the company has been providing services to fire departments, grain elevators, and emergency management agencies for around 16 years.

He said there are three rescue scenarios that need to be learned, accounting for scenes in which a victim has limbs outside of the corn or is nearly or fully covered by it.

"It's always my hope that once we show them (rescue workers) how to put the equipment together and how the systems work, that these panels all collect dust and they never have to get used," Ashenfelter said.

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Lisa Grouette is a Photographer and Reporter for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at 641-421-0525 or lisa.grouette@globegazette.comFollow Lisa on Twitter @LisaGrouette

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