First responders reflect on Sioux Falls tragedy following Iowa building collapse

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 9:35 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In eastern Iowa, five people are unaccounted for after a historic apartment building partially collapsed.

As news of the collapse in Iowa broke, some are recalling their experiences.

City of Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith says the city has set protocols if a building were to collapse.

Smith says it requires a high level of training.

“Sioux Falls Fire Rescue does have an Urban Rescue team, and that includes structural collapse, confined space, trench rescue, and high angle rescue also,” said Smith.

He says teamwork is also vital.

“We do work with South Dakota Task Force One, and we train with that group year-round, and that includes Watertown, Aberdeen, and Rapid City. They would supplement, and we would work together across South Dakota,” said Smith.

Battalion Chief Michael Murphy has worked with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue for seventeen years and was a first responder in the last major building collapse in Sioux Falls in 2016.

He says the recent collapse in Davenport, Iowa, has caused him to reflect on the incident.

“Especially with it being close to home in Iowa, it certainly draws your attention. I would say the magnitude of that one surpasses what we encounter here, but it evokes some of the similar memories and feelings, and our team is available and willing to help if called upon to assist them,” said Murphy.

He recalled his experience responding to the collapse in Sioux Falls.

“The training kicked in pretty quickly, and our staff had prepared for that scenario, so we just kind of went into our plan to what we would do in that situation, and we were able to enact that plan,” said Murphy.

Murphy noted how important both teamwork and training are in responding.

“In Sioux Falls, we have roughly fifty of our personnel who are trained in structural collapse responses, so we do have a pretty robust team that’s capable of responding to that,” said Murphy.

Murphy says he will be keeping the first responders and the victims in the Iowa building collapse in his thoughts and is ready to respond if called upon.