Rapid City Fire Department Hagglunds Sees Blizzard Action
RCFD Crew Uses Vehicle for I-90 Rescues
Rapid City, S.D. - Fifteen people and four dogs are safe in Rapid City after being stranded on I-90 about 4 miles west of Wicksville, S.D. during a Christmas blizzard. The individuals and their pets were rescued by a two-person crew from the Rapid City Fire Department in a vehicle purchased to bolster blizzard response.
Around 11 pm Christmas night, the Rapid City Fire Department was requested to assist in an area where approximately one dozen vehicles had become stranded as a result of the storm. With Pennington County Search and Rescue already working in an area east of Wall, S.D., an additional tracked rescue vehicle was needed.
Within about 15 minutes of the request, the Hagglunds and it's crew- Firefighter/Medic Jason Fields and Firefighter/Paramedic Francis Bierman- set out for the area near mile-marker 86. "We loaded up medical supplies, basically since we really didn't have much information or know what we would find," said Bierman, a 7-year veteran of the RCFD. Bierman said, "We took about 20 blankets with us and headed out. It took us about an hour-and-a-half to get there which was way less than we thought it would take."
As the duo encountered stranded vehicles, they would stop to make sure they were not occupied. When they arrived in the area of mile-marker 86, they found a number of vehicles stranded. "It was tough to tell how many vehicles were there," Bierman said in a phone interview. Bierman added, "Visibility was pretty bad at that point." The stranded vehicles included passenger cars, semi-trucks and even snowplows. "The semi-truck drivers wanted to stay with their vehicles," Bierman said. "They were set-up fine and just wanted to wait for the roads to open. The other cars were in worse shape. It was so windy and cold. A lot of them would have run out of fuel by the time anyone got to them".
Bierman and Fields were able to rescue 15 people and 4 dogs from the area. "We took a poll and everyone wanted to come back to Rapid", Bierman said. "Everyone got along really well- including the dogs, which made me happy- so we got turned around and headed back". Bierman said that the Hagglunds rode much smoother than anticipated. He said that the ability to travel in ditches and medians was of huge benefit. The RCFD crew dropped off their passengers and returned to their station around 3:30 am.
Bierman and Fields started their 24-hour shift on Sunday riding Truck 1. Throughout the course of the day, the crew ran a number of fire-alarms and medical calls. The day was busy tracking and preparing for the storm and- after snow began to fall- removing snow from around the station. After a 24-hour shift with little rest, Bierman was looking forward to some sleep. "I'm going to go home and try and get a nap," he said. "It was a pretty long day."
The Rapid City Fire Department purchased the Hagglunds BV206 vehicle in 2014 after the organizations Command Staff reviewed response to Winter Storm Atlas that pummeled the area in early October of 2013. During that storm, mobility and the ability to rescue multiple individuals at one time were glaring issues. Those difficulties were not noted only during Atlas, but also during other past winter storms. The Hagglunds was purchased to solve those issues. Able to transport up to 17 people, the Hagglunds is adaptive to multiple surfaces and terrains.
For questions or comment related to this release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, RCFD Public Information Officer, at (605)-394-4180.
Firefighter/Paramedic Bierman (L) and Firefighter/Medic Fields (R) after returning from their mission.
The RCFD Hagglunds BV206
Fields and Bierman fuel up after returning from the Wicksville area. The vehicle is ready for the next storm.