Farmers face tasks that can present a wide range of hazards every day, but now there's a new tool that can help during one of the worst, a grain engulfment crisis.
In just a matter of seconds, grain in a bin can move quickly, swallowing up a person. To put it into terms we can all understand, the Vice President of the Stevens Point FFA Alumni, Eric Trzebiatowski compares it to quicksand. Penn State Extension says if a 165 person is just up to their waist, it would take 300 pounds of force to pull them free.
Ken Schroeder, the UW Extension Ag. Agent for Portage Co. says, "By the time you're up to your waist you can't pull that person out because of the pressure holding them down. If you did put a harness on and pulled them out you could injure them severely."
That's because as a person struggles and moves, the grain packs tighter and tighter. If the grain level reaches the chest it could cause the person to be unable to breathe. If it's over the victim's head, it can cause suffocation.
That why rescue crews in Portage County are grateful to have some of the latest rescue equipment. It's known as the Great Wall of Rescue. According to the manufacturer's web page, it describes the tool as lightweight wall sections that are easily maneuvered and can be aligned to fit all rescue situations.
"The grain tube is assembled in the bin and down and around the victim. We can then start removing that grain, and the tube keeps the rest of the grain in the bin from pushing against the victim." says Amherst Fire Chief, Victor Voss.
A tool like this is not cheap. It cost $2,500, but thanks to a donation from the Stevens Point FFA Alumni, this farm safety tool is available for any grain emergency in Portage Co.
This is one of two that are in NorthCentral Wisconsin. It will be housed at the Amherst Fire Department, but again it will be available for use county-wide.
It actually arrived last week and is being shown off at the Portage Co. Farm Technology Days near the Youth Tent.
Chief Voss says crews will be heading to Illinois for training next week.
Every year, about 36 grain bin entrapments happen - with more than half being fatal. Approximately one in 5 grain entrapments involve children. (Stats from Penn State Extension)
You can learn more about the Stevens Point FFA Alumni by checking them out on Facebook - Stevens Point FFA Alumni - Friends For Agriculture.
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