By Randy Fogg
The Ledger Staff
MOUNDRIGE – Ron Blaylock, chief for the Moundridge Fire Department, said they want to use the money donated during the auxiliary’s annual chili feed to purchase water rescue equipment.
The auxiliary’s 10th annual chili feed took place Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Moundridge Middle School’s Common.
While the amount of money raised was not available, Blaylock noted they were extremely pleased with the turnout for the event. He added they had a steady stream of customers during the feed.
The department would like to purchase four ice rescue suits and they cost $1,000 each. They also want an inflatable raft and it is $3,600.
Blaylock noted the raft is easy to store and can be inflated within 60 seconds.
He said the department could need to do a water rescue at a variety of locations – farm ponds, Pack Park and the north pond.
“It’s the right time for us to get it,” he added.
Three Moundridge firefighters – Lt. Rhett Neufeld and firefighters George Nelson and Jeff Wedel – took part in water rescue training three weeks ago in Harvey County.
“These were the people who were able to do the training this time,” Blaylock said. “We had been thinking about ice water rescue training for years.”
He added Moundridge firefighters do water rescue training annually.
“The deal that happened in Pack Park (which had two fatalities) was the first ice rescue call in McPherson County in 20 years,” Blaylock said. “You don’t need to use it often.”
He noted the three department members have already led ice water rescue training for other local firefighters.
“We’ll continue with it,” Blaylock said.
Neufeld said the suits give firefighters plenty of buoyancy.
“You can’t sink,” he added. “You have to put ankle weights on.”
Neufeld said it takes five minutes to get the suit on and into the water.
Blaylock said they want to have a two-man team that can get into the water and have another two-man team for standby.
The raft will hold two men.
Neufeld noted Hutchinson Community College has wooden planks they use as “ice” for training exercises. One plank has a hole in it for the rescue training.
Neufeld noted the Harvey County training was the first time for them to put on one of the ice rescue suits.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Neufeld said. “It was good training to get use to the suit and how it fits you.”
“The goal is to get all of our guys trained,” Blaylock said.