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Heavy-duty rescues

Dan’s Towing of Willmar hosts a training session for rescue professionals Monday at Auto Save north of Willmar. Employees of the tow company demonstrated how to right a tractor-trailer using airbags. (Tribune photo by Gary Miller)1 / 2
Jason Butler, of Dan’s Towing, deflates an air bag during a training exercise Tuesday. (Tribune photo by Gary Miller)2 / 2

WILLMAR — A crowd gathered in Willmar on Tuesday evening to witness new rescue equipment that can overturn 80,000-pound semis.

Dan’s Towing Inc. of Willmar organized the training event, which drew spectators in addition to members of Kandiyohi County Rescue, the Blomkest Fire Department, Herman Fire Department and Willmar Ambulance.

Dan Prahl, owner of Dan’s Towing Inc. and also of Dan’s Diesel Service and Repair in Sunburg, wanted to educate local emergency services about the new equipment.

Prahl recently expanded to include towing with the new Willmar business.

“We are new with towing and wanted to show what we can do,” said Prahl. “If (emergency personnel) need help, it will make them familiar with the equipment.”

The airbags are strong enough to overturn a semi with little to no damage. Prahl said this can be especially helpful in accidents when there is a person stuck inside a vehicle.

Spectators watched as the semi, attached to other vehicles for support, was slowly lifted off the ground with the heavy-duty airbags.

Kandiyohi County Rescue suited up after the semi was overturned to extricate, or take apart, the semi for a simulated rescue.

The rescue team worked together and used metal saws and bars to break windows and piece apart the vehicle.

Josh Larcom, training officer for Kandiyohi County Rescue, said the rescue team works with airbags to lift vehicles during accidents.

He said the new, stronger airbags demonstrated Tuesday are more efficient and make accident recovery faster and safer.

“It is a new asset for the community,” said Larcom. “It is another piece of equipment we need to familiarize ourselves with.”