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June 19, 2021

5/19/2021 9:41:00 AM
Iowa County Technical Rescue Team: A local, life-saving organization

By Levi Zimmerman
A local non-profit organization, Iowa County Technical Rescue Team, consists of local firefighters, EMT's and police officers, as well as community members, who serve the Iowa County area as well as surrounding counties.
Treasurer and Secretary Brittany Rickey explained that the team was founded in 2012 after former Chief of the Hollandale Fire Department, Mary Gilbertson, witnessed someone fall in an ice-covered lake.
Rickey also mentioned another instance where a local farmer fell into a grain bin, and nobody had the ability to conduct a swift rescue.
Gilbertson was concerned with the realization that there wasn't an organization in the area that had the necessary training and equipment to take action in such grave circumstances.
During the formation of the Iowa County Technical Rescue Team, the organization outlined the purpose and mission of the team.
In a letter, the team stated the following: "The mission of the Iowa County Technical Rescue Team is to provide specialized technical rescue for the residents and visitors of the Iowa County area."
The team has also historically assisted in search and rescue efforts after a tornado hit in the Platteville area in addition to a rescue where a subject had fallen off of a bluff.
After being asked what the team offers that local fire departments don't, Rickey stated, "We go above and beyond an every day fire department."
She explained that every member takes a 40 hour rope rescue course where members are trained in high-angle rope and low-angle rope rescue in addition to training in confined space and ice water rescue.
The team also goes to the Blackhawk Lake Recreation Area to recertify in ice water rescue.
The ability to have an organization that holds jurisdiction over the entire county instead of just one city, village or township is both beneficial and crucial to the safety of Iowa County residents.
Although the team has averaged one call every two years, the calls that they respond to are routinely severe, says Rickey.
One example comes from an incident where a 71-year-old man from Grant County was trapped in a grain bin with 10,000 bushels of shelled corn up to his chest.
The Iowa County Technical Rescue Team assisted in the call and helped rescue the elderly man who was flown to UW-Madison hospital.
"If we are needed, we are here," said Rickey.
Despite being a crucial, high-skill rescue organization, the Iowa County Technical Rescue Team has been struggling recently.
"Our biggest struggle is funding," said Rickey.
The team typically holds a fundraising banquet event every Spring, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team has been unable to hold the event the last two years.
Rickey stated that the banquet brings in a large amount of money to the team that contributes to expensive equipment that is paramount in saving lives.
As a non-profit organization, the team has been relying solely on donations and grants.
When asked why the community should support the team, Rickey stated, "You never know when you're going to need us."
She explained that most fire departments in the area are not trained in high-angle or low-angle rescue operations, which could result in lost lives if the team is forced to dissolve.
Rickey was asked how the community can support the team, and she said that community members knowing what the team does and who they are is helpful.
She also encourages people to ask questions.
Rickey stated, "We're proud of what we do and take pride in serving Iowa County."
Community members can send donations to PO Box 163 Dodgeville, WI 53533.

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