CRESCO, Iowa - On Wednesday night, the Cresco Community Fire Department trained for the first time with their new inflatable rescue boat at Vernon Springs.
"Everything went very well. Certainly learned a bunch of things that we're doing well and things that we need to improve on so it's a great place to start," said Fire Chief Neal Stapelkamp.
The boat is specifically designed for river rescues, but can handle larger bodies of water such as lakes as well. It can hold two firefighters and two passengers and deflates to fit into a small pack.
On May 25th, the Cresco Community Fire Department and Decorah Fire Department worked together to rescue two kayakers on the Upper Iowa River near Kendallville. At the time, the Decorah Fire Department had water rescue equipment but the Cresco Community Fire Department did not. Now, CCFD will be respond to water emergencies with their own boat and assist other departments who do not have boats with any rescues in the Howard County area.
"With the surrounding communities we have that don't have a boat, we felt that if we could get one to help just our situation and the surrounding community," said firefighter Annette Trachta.
"We've just seen an increase in river traffic and we've had more calls in the last 5 years also and we've always had to call Decorah Fire to come up and help us. Well, they're busier too with their own territory," adds Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Reicks.
Trachta and Reicks are on a community that evalautes the fire department's needs. In addition to the boat, the department has purchased new self-contained breathing apparatuses with thermal imaging to help them with search and rescue missions within the last year. Work is also being completed on a new, large storage and training building. These new tools are funded through tax dollars and community fundraisers. CCFD thanks taxpayers and people who participate in the fundraisers who make these additions possible.