Codfish Hollow volunteer hurt in tractor accident one week after emergency drill

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JACKSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- An accident happened at a popular music venue in Jackson County over the weekend, but the staff was able to handle it because they had gone through emergency response training just one week prior.

Marvin Franzen on a tractor at Codfish Hollow in Dubuque (Courtesy Photo)

Codfish Hollow Barnstormers is a music venue in Jackson County that's attracted thousands over the years for its unique location and great bands. One of the people's favorite things about the venue is the tractor ride from the parking lot down to the venue. The man driving the tractor is always Marvin Franzen.

"Many people will say that he reminds them of their dad or their grandfather and, you know it’s this journey down this hill that’s almost like stepping back in time, and Marvin is the person that takes them there," Angie Petit Lichter, Codfish Hollow Public Relations Manager, said.

During a set from The Artisanals on Saturday, August 10, Franzen was transporting two event-goers from the parking lot when the tractor went off the road. He suffered a broken pelvis and arms, while the passengers were alright.

"I heard someone say Marvin is in the ditch. It’s like our worst nightmare is happening," Petit Lichter said.

Thankfully, she knew exactly what to do because of the emergency training she, her staff, and county first responders recently went through.

That training was held on August 1, and the county simulated a tractor rollover on the gravel road that leads to the barn. The drill was timed and, afterward, there was a debriefing to go through what went well and what could be improved.

Petit Lichter says that training taught her she would need to go up the hill from the venue to get cell service to call 911.

"The emergency personnel from the county were there within about 11 minutes," Petit Lichter said.

The quick response by staff was beneficial for all levels of the response.

"Everything fell into place," Lynn Medinger, Jackson County Emergency Management Coordinator, said. "Their public safety volunteers sprung into action, they recognized they had an emergency. They shut down people leaving the venue, they shut down the parking area, they kept everybody contained. And EMS personnel were able to get in and get out.”

Petit Lichter said it's "eerie" the accident happened in the same location as the training.

Meanwhile, Franzen had a 9.5-hour surgery and will have more, according to Petit Lichter. People have set up a Go Fund Me account to raise money for his medical bills, and it's already raised nearly $14,000.

This whole situation highlights the importance of having a plan and exercising it.

"It’s absolutely vital," Petit Lichter said. "You hope you never have to use it. We didn’t envision we would ever, and hopefully, nothing will ever happen again.”