Partnership set to save livesBy joining forces with the Superior Fire Department, Graymont’s Superior lime plant could save lives. The business, which processes about one million tons of limestone a year, recently purchased three small devices that have a big impact on how quickly firefighters can rescue people from high places.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
By joining forces with the Superior Fire Department, Graymont’s Superior lime plant could save lives. The business, which processes about one million tons of limestone a year, recently purchased three small devices that have a big impact on how quickly firefighters can rescue people from high places.
“This is a small investment that could really have a big return,” said Keith Miller, environmental/quality assurance supervisor for Graymont.
The Multiple Positioning Devices, or MPDs, were put to the test Friday as firefighters staged a rescue from the lime plant’s century-old trolley crane bridge. Last year, similar rescue drills barely fit within the “golden hour,” the critical first minutes after a trauma is sustained.
“The three times we did it last time we averaged 52 minutes,” said Battalion Chief Scott Gordon with the Superior Fire Department. So lime plant and fire department personnel sat down to see how they could shave time off the procedure.
“Basically what we’re looking at doing is trying to find a safe way and a quick way to get them down,” Miller said. Following fire department recommendations, the company installed an anchor point on the cab house of the bridge and purchased three MPDs for $650 each as part of a Public Private Partnership. The result of their improvements was an extra 33 minutes. Friday’s rescue took 19 minutes and 18 seconds.
“Fantastic,” Miller said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to accomplish.”
Employees were impressed with the new time.
“It will save a life,” said Dwight Willoughby, a millwright. “They knocked 33 minutes off it. That could be the difference between living and dying.”
The MPDs can be used in a number of high elevation situations, such as a work incident on the Blatnik Bridge, Gordon said. The devices speed up a rescue because the same rigging pulls the basket up, and with the flick of a switch, reverses to lower it.
“It used to be two separate systems and it would take time to transfer over and it was more equipment we had to bring up,” Gordon said.
In addition, the rigging is set up on the ground, which means less equipment for firefighters to pack with them up ladders and stairs.
“Safer for our guys going up, it’s quicker for the employees coming down,” Gordon said.
He thanked Graymont for trusting the department and donating the equipment. Now, those MPDs will be available on fire trucks 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“In the end, we’re very fortunate to have the fire department partner with us in this way,” Miller said. “We have 18 lime plants throughout North America and very few of them are close to a city like we are.”
High elevations rescues are specialized.
“They didn’t have the equipment to be able to do that so we provided it for them,” Miller said. “In the event something should happen they have it right there, they are able to quickly get over here within minutes.”
He said partnering with the department on training drills allows firefighters to become familiar with the plant and its layout. That could shave minutes off an emergency response call “which is a huge advantage, especially when minutes count.”