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Mock crash exercise proves meaningful for dad, daughter

Darin Pierce and his daughter, Kylie Munyon, of rural Pennock have had unusual roles as both pretend and real-life volunteers and victims. Those experiences will be put to use during a mock crash scheduled for Saturday at Pierce’s rural home that will help prepare children if they’re involved in an accident. Forum News Service

SUNBURG — In mid-March, rescue volunteers from the Sunburg ambulance and fire department pulled Kylie Munyon’s bloody body out of a crashed vehicle as the 12-year-old cried out for help.

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Fortunately, the broken bone protruding from the girl’s arm was a turkey bone and the blood was fake.

It was all part of a training exercise for emergency volunteers, including Kylie’s dad, Darin Pierce, who is director of the Sunburg ambulance and also serves as the assistant fire chief for the small northern Kandiyohi County town.

That exercise proved to be especially meaningful for Pierce and Kylie when they were in a four-wheeler accident just 10 days later.

Some of the same volunteers who were at the mock crash were there for a real-life rescue that included an ambulance ride for Kylie, who had a cracked pelvis, and Pierce, who was airlifted from the rural site to St. Cloud with a fractured skull.

One of the first things Pierce remembers Kylie telling him was that she wasn’t scared when rescue workers came to help them because she knew what to expect from the role-playing exercise.

“That meant a lot to me,” Pierce said.

In an effort to give more kids a similar hands-on experience, the Sunburg ambulance service and fire department will conduct a mock crash Saturday morning at Pierce’s rural home that will involve four children as victims.

Other youths are invited for a close-up look at a simulated rescue operation for what could be a typical crash on a farm road.

“I want to teach kids what we do and what to expect,” Pierce said.

The exercise will be beneficial for the rescue crews, but Pierce said the Sunburg volunteers are eager to provide this type of learning experience for children who may find themselves in a real emergency situation.

“I want kids to know that if something happens, we’re here to help you,” Pierce said.

Father and daughter have fully recovered from their injuries.

The only part of the real rescue that bothered Kylie was that her brand-new coat had to be cut off her. That aspect of a rescue routine had not been part of the mock crash.

If Saturday’s event goes well, Pierce said he would like to coordinate larger events in the future.

Although some area high schools conduct mock crash displays right before prom, those events often have a chilling message of fear about the dangers of drinking and driving.

This event, Pierce said, is designed to educate kids about the rescue process and the people who volunteer their time to help others.

“When that pager goes off, we’re here to help our people,” Pierce said. “It’s nice to know there are people to help, night or day.”

He said he’s thankful volunteers were there to help when he and Kylie needed it.

“I’m lucky,” Pierce said. “It was the crew that I work with.”

There could be other side benefits to exposing kids to the process.

Pierce, who joined the ambulance crew when he was just 20 years old, said it’s challenging for small, rural communities to keep volunteer crews at full staff.

Maybe some of the kids who witness the mock crash will eventually want to become volunteers when they get older, he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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