LIFE SAVERS: Heroes Receive Valor Awards

Eleven Iowa first responders were honored with one of the state’s highest awards, the Sullivan Brother’s Award of Valor.

Four of the eleven recipients are Iowa Falls volunteer firefighters. This summer the group helped rescue a man who was buried alive under hundreds of pounds of corn in a grain bin.

It’s an accident most people don’t survive.

grain_bin_death“I was scared, it was a really strange feeling, it just feels like corn is crawling up your leg and just sucking you in,” said Arick Baker back in July.

Baker was working inside a grain bin just south of Iowa Falls, when he slipped through an air pocket burying him in an 80,000 bushel bin of corn. “As weird as it sounds for the next ten minutes or so I just okayed it with myself that I was going to die, people don’t come out of grain bins,” says Baker.

After an hour, someone realized Baker was missing and called for help.

“I got in the bin looked around for quite a while and didn`t find anything or any sign of anybody and Arick Baker heard us talking and started to make noise under the corn which happened to be under my feet,” recalls Firefighter Tyler Prochaska.

For three hours, firefighters worked to free Baker, and after suffering only minor injuries he was able to make a full recovery.

“I’m one-hundred percent back, I was able to finish harvest, got done with that last week no incidents,” says Baker.

Four of the men responsible for saving his life, Steven Henry, Jason Barrick, Tyler Prochaska, and Jon Linn were awarded the Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor. “We never thought we did anything more dangerous than the next guy besides us but we`re very thankful we got it,” says Linn.

“Really proud to get it and like to thank everyone that was there that day they deserve it just as much,” says Prochaska.

grain bin helmetOn top of the first responders Baker was also wearing a battery powered ventilation mask that kept the corn away from his face and allowed him to breath.

“Without that helmet there is absolutely no question I would be dead,” says Baker.

He says he’s grateful to everyone who responded to help him that day, especially the four firefighters who never left his side. “Those guys without them I wouldn`t be here no questions asked absolutely none. Words cannot describe how thankful I am,” says Baker.

Baker says following his accident he contacted the mask company and now helps sell them to other farmers.

Three members of three different Jasper County law enforcement departments were also honored; Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Burdess, Newton Officer Adam Herman and Baxter Officer Joe Bartello.

The three helped pull a truck driver to safety after he crashed into water off I-80 in May.

Three other officers were honored for their role in a shootout following a bank robbery last October in the town of Maynard.

State Trooper Mark Domino and Sumner Police Chief Dennis Cain were both shot as the suspects ran from the bank.

DOT Officer Benjamin Driscoll is credited with saving Cain’s life by applying pressure to his wounds.

The two suspects were both caught and convicted, and are now incarcerated.

The final award went to Urbandale police officer Zac McDowell. In March he and a department intern pulled a teen driver from a burning car.

The award is given for those who performed a heroic act without regard for one’s own personal safety.

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