Magazine article Rural Cooperatives

Co-Op Safety Director Offers Aid in Tornado-Ravaged Communities

Magazine article Rural Cooperatives

Co-Op Safety Director Offers Aid in Tornado-Ravaged Communities

Article excerpt

When a tornado ripped (through the city of Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011, emergency responders from across the country joined in the rescue and cleanup efforts. Putting the cooperative principle of concern for community into practice, several Iowa FS employees were among those who spent time helping in the recovery efforts.

Steve Gerard, New Century FS environmental safety and regulatory director, is no stranger to disaster relief efforts. As the chief of the New Sharon, Iowa, volunteer fire department, he has worked both locally and nationally, using his training to respond to emergency situations.

"I was in Biloxi, Miss., after Katrina and on the scene at Parkersburg (Iowa, site of another tornado), but I have never seen such a widespread area with so much destruction," he said. After making a phone call to a Joplin battalion chief, Gerard was given the green light to take a crew of fellow firefighters to Missouri to assist with rescue and recovery. He mustered a group of nine, including Jacoby Tremmel, New Century custom applicator and new recruit to the New Sharon Fire Department.

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Upon arrival, the group was split into three teams. Each team served as support to a canine unit. When the trained search dogs found something, it was up to the support team to dig until they found whatever the dog detected.

"When we started our time in Joplin, most of the homes had already been checked, but we were conducting a second sweep with the dogs to be sure nothing was missed," Gerard said. …

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