Minnehaha County, South Dakota
Amateur radio persons, better known as Hams, have been included in Emergency Management disaster planning. These persons have the responsibility of providing backup communications in the event of a failure of the government system. They are also a ready resource for supplementing communications at large disasters or emergencies.
With the computer and combination radio resource they provide, Minnehaha County can communicate to the outside world when needed. This group consists of forty volunteers who meet weekly to maintain the experience of the new trends. They have provided many hours to the community through severe weather watches, training meetings, and public relations service.
The Minnehaha County Emergency Management Dive Team consists of twelve certified divers who train monthly to stay proficient for quick response needed for river and lake rescue. They work very closely and train in special maneuvers with the Rescue Unit. Dive Team vehicles and the boats are shared with the Rescue Squad. In addition to responding to drowning emergencies, the Dive Team works with local law enforcement in water searches for crime evidence discarded in water.
They have been requested to assist in numerous search and water recovery efforts in other jurisdictions in the state and neighboring states.
If you are a certified diver and would like to join the Minnehaha County Dive Team, call or stop by the Emergency Management Office to pick up an application form.
The Minnehaha County Emergency Management Rescue Squad consists of twenty-two dedicated emergency medical technicians who are on twenty-four hour call to assist with all areas of search and rescue. This unit specializes in extrication from vehicle accidents, farm machinery, rescue from silo and grain bins. They also train extensively with the Dive Team and are very proficient in rescue from water. Rescue Squad persons meet each Monday evening to keep their skills up-to-date.
The Rescue Unit maintains and operates rescue vehicles with first-aid and rescue tools of all kinds for extrication. The main first response vehicle, a 1999 Ford one ton truck, carries the Hurst tool, "Jaws of Life," hydraulic jacks, spreaders, air bags, and medical supplies needed at the vehicle accident.
A 1997 Ford pickup, the second response vehicle, carries the generator and light system to provide light at a fire scene or accident. It also is used in several night searches.
A 1986 one ton Chevrolet truck carries the air cascade system needed at fires to fill firemen’s smoke masks or drowning scenes to fill divers' air tanks. This system will deliver air to thirty-two firemen’s smoke masks or twenty-eight scuba tanks.
Two Chevrolet Suburbans, a 2004 and a 1990, serve as transport vehicles for the units trailers. They are also people haulers to transport personnel; i.e., Rescue Squad, Reserve Law Enforcement, K-9 Unit, or Dive Team. They are also used in winter emergencies.
Two administrative vehicles, a 1996 Chevrolet Blazer and a 1998 Chevrolet Van, are also available for Squad use, if necessary.
The unit has two rescue boats. A 2003 Zodiac, is available for drownings and water searches in the rivers and shallow water. A 2000 19’ Carolina Skiff is used in deeper water or in the lakes.
The disaster trailer is a 2004 enclosed tandem trailer loaded with rescue supplies to handle a disaster involving up to two hundred persons.
There is also a 2001 Artic Cat snowmobile and rescue sled for winter emergencies. A 2001 Yamaha 4X4 ATV is used for winter or off-road emergencies. A 2004 enclosed trailer large enough to house the equivalent of four snowmobiles is used to transport snowmobiles, ATV, or other equipment needed for the rescue. A smaller flatbed trailer is also available.
A 1981 Jeep doubles up as a rescue vehicle as well as being used for driveway and parking lot snow removal.
The Rescue Squad’s application period is always open. If you would like to join the Minnehaha County Emergency Management Rescue Squad, call or stop by the Emergency Management Office to pick up an application form. For any questions, please contact Doug Blomker.
The Minnehaha County Emergency Management Reserve Law Enforcement Unit currently consists of fifty reserve law enforcement officers. The primary function of a reserve officer is to supplement and support career law enforcement officers. Each are certified by the South Dakota Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission. Each officer is required to provide the community with no less than eight hours of duty time each month. Duty time is acquired by working with either the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Sioux Falls Police Department, Brandon Police Department, South Dakota Highway Patrol, or the Department of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. Each officer is also required to attend a three-hour training session each month. Officers also work requested time when an agency asks for assistance for a special event. Reserve officers have participated in assisting at parades, Sioux Empire Fair, marathons, holiday patrol, street dances, community events, bike patrol, tournaments, and dignitary visits such as Presidential details.
The Reserves have a disaster trailer loaded with necessary equipment for quick response to an emergency situation.
The Emergency Management Office holds training for new officers on a yearly basis with the entire training program running approximately five months. Classes are held accordingly with the requirements of the South Dakota Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission. If you would like to join the Minnehaha County Reserve Law Enforcement, call or stop by the Emergency Management Office to pick up an application form. Please email your questions here.
The Minnehaha County Emergency Management Office maintains a list of current snowmobile clubs who have agreed to offer their services and equipment in the event of an emergency or search during severe winter weather. These groups include members who live throughout the county to provide help wherever it is needed.
In 2004, the Sno-Trackers Snowmobile Club purchased with donations a 2001 Artic Cat snowmobile and rescue sled as well as a 2004 enclosed trailer large enough to house the equivalent of four snowmobiles. This equipment is lodged at the Emergency Management Building and is used in by both the Snowmobile Club and the Rescue Squad during winter emergencies where travel by vehicle is impossible.
The tornado spotters network is the largest group of volunteers the Office of Minnehaha County Emergency Management coordinates. The spotters network consists of persons from the Rescue Squad, Amateur Radio Club, volunteer fire departments, law enforcement, and citizens at large.
Volunteers respond when summoned for assistance to watch the weather. Their response is in their personal vehicles, and they drive several miles each watch with disregard to any damage that may occur because of hail and strong winds. The skilled training of the spotter is vital to the early warning and protection of Minnehaha County citizens.