Region 8 First Responders Learn Lessons From MN Bridge Collapse Responder

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT)- Dave Long is a columnist, author and also happens to be one of the first paramedics to arrive on the scene of the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

Just minutes after sections of the bridge stradling the mississippi river buckled, emergency crews were there to assist in search and rescue.

There were 13 deaths and more than 100 people were injured.

"I mean it's pretty unbelievable that five sections of bridge collapsed into the river at 6 in the evening," said Long.

Long says since a review of the disaster's handling, FEMA's given the group of first responders that day a gold star.

He attributes that to fast action on the part of paramedics, hospitals and police.

"For triage, we said yes we'll do that but if you're hurt and you're ready to go to the hospital, we can also do that," he said. "It worked very well for us."

That's why Pocahontas fire chief Scott Baltz wants Region 8 rescue agencies to be armed with the same knowledge ... Just in case.

"You know, everyone's concerned about the bridges and we don't want to scare anyone," said Baltz." "We just want to let everyone know what we're prepared for."

Joe Chappel says the only bridge he's concerned with is the Black River bridge near his home in Imboden.

But, he says he doesn't live his life in fear. He trusts the agencies charged with inspecting bridges.

"Hopefully all of our state officials are doing what they're supposed to do," said Chappel. "They say that they're all safe, so we just have to trust them."

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