FARMHAMVILLE - Death by suffocation caused by grain entrapment is an all too common issue throughout the farming industry.
According to information provided by Iowa State University, grain handling entrapments can happen quickly and the flow of grain can render a person powerless within 5 seconds, and the force required to remove someone buried below the surface can exceed 2,000 pounds.
The Reading-Cedar Fire Department, in Farnhamville, is now equipped to rescue a person in this life-threatening situation.
-Messenger photos by Kriss Nelson
READING-CEDAR Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Vosper and Training Officer Steve Peterson practice training themselves with the use of new grain rescue equipment with Fire Chief Jay Anderson in the center.
Steve Peterson, the department's training officer, said the grain rescue system, known as a grain tube, is a modular design that allows it to be taken through small openings of a grain bin or other grain structures and assembled around the victim protecting them from the crushing pressures that happen when a person is trapped.
Peterson added that after the tube is in place, rescuers can then safely extricate the victim by removing the small amount of grain that is left inside the tube surrounding the victim.
"The rescue equipment will be essential in the rescue of both elevator employees and local area farmers in the event of entrapment or engulfment in the areas of grain storage facilities," said Peterson.
The grain tube was presented to the Reading-Cedar Fire Department in February from Farmers Cooperative in Farnhamville. During the presentation of the equipment, Peterson said, a representative from the Outstate Data Co., which designed and manufactured the equipment, was present to explain and train the department with hands-on rescue scenarios using the grain tube.
"It's reassuring to have this equipment available for us to use in an emergency situation, and for the generosity of FC to make it happen for us," said Jay Anderson, Reading-Cedar fire chief.
Peterson said regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Adminsitration for commercial grain operators now prevent individuals from entering a structure when any equipment is in operation. However for farmers, it is common practice to enter a bin to install and/or aid in the operation of sweep augers and to clean out the bin during unloading of the grain.
Peterson advises having all safety devices in place and operating properly and to know the 911 address of where a person is working.
"One issue that has come up more in recent years is for people to know their 911 address in case of emergency," said Peterson. "With some farming leases changing year to year, it is very possible John's south 80 will make perfect sense to the farmer, but has no bearing to the location for the 911 operator to send emergency personnel."
Peterson also warns against working alone.
"The last is for people to not do some of these operation alone when possible," he said. "A little forethought can go a long way in helping prevent an accident or save a life."
The new grain rescue equipment will be on display during the Reading-Cedar Fire Department's annual pork chop dinner from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 24, at the FC Co-op Community Room in Farnhamville.
The dinner consists of a boneless smoked pork loin, baked beans, cole slaw and a dinner roll for $8 per person with both dine in and dine-out dinners available.
All proceeds go directly to the Reading-Cedar Fire Department.