New Albin Fire Department prepares itself for the harvest season with new grain bin rescue tube and training

New Albin Fire Department awarded grain bin rescue tube and training ... Pictured above, members of the New Albin Fire Department stand with the Great Wall grain bin rescue tube the department was awarded in a Grain Bin Safety Week contest earlier this year, along with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety trainer who educated the department volunteers on its use in September. At right is a simulated training demonstration using the Great Wall grain bin rescue tube. Photos courtesy of Nationwide Insurance.

by Anne Falken

Residents of this area would describe the area in which they live as a farming community, and as harvest begins in earnest this time of year with feelings of accomplishment, many of those residents hold their collective breath, knowing all of its dangers, as well. Large machinery, farmers working many hours and at night, the risks invariably taken in the press of time, and children in the mix, put all on edge.

The New Albin Fire Department demonstrated foresight in its emergency response to the harvest season when department officials entered the “2017 Nominate Your Fire Department Contest” last February, as part of Grain Bin Safety Week. The New Albin department was selected as a winner, from among 883 nominations, of a Great Wall grain rescue tube, or Adaptable Grain Entrapment Rescue System, including training.

Fifteen other fire or emergency units nationwide also won this piece of rescue equipment. For the past four years, Nationwide Insurance, and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety and other partners, have sponsored the contest and given away the Great Walls of Rescue. In total, these rescue tubes have been awarded to 48 fire and emergency responder units in 18 states. Nationwide says that until there is a “zero entry mentality” around entering grain bins, they will continue to strive to make these rescue tubes and training available.

New Albin Fire Department officials remind anyone who thinks they must enter a bin, wagon or trailer that it should be with power locked out, and they should be wearing a harness and line tied off to an anchor point. All area agriculture producers are reminded to stay safe during this harvest season.

September 11, representatives from Nationwide Insurance and an instructor from The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety were in New Albin to present the equipment and administer the accompanying training to fire department personnel. The training featured a state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulator holding 100 bushels of grain. The simulator creates a safe yet realistic training environment for personnel to gain the needed hands-on experience for such rescues.

The most common scenario involving grain entrapment occurs during the unloading of grain, when a person enters a bin to loosen crusted, spoiled or frozen grain while the equipment is running. When unloading, grain forms a funnel shape on top of the grain with a flowing column of grain to the unloader. Within seconds, someone can be pulled in knee deep, and even at knee deep it becomes nearly impossible for someone to free themselves without assistance.

Once trapped, it requires 400-500 pounds of force to remove someone trapped waist deep, 900 pounds at neck deep. That amount of force is not only difficult to apply, but would cause further injury to the victim.

This is where the rescue tube comes in. The tube consists of six segments which interlock to form a cylinder, or even a wall by flipping every other segment end-to-end. These segments can be passed through a bin door and assembled within the bin itself. The tube is deployed around the victim like a cofferdam, at which time the grain can be removed from around the subject within the tube, allowing for their removal.

Traditionally, holes would need to be cut in the bin walls to remove the grain from around a victim. This can create a dangerous situation by compromising the structure and potentially unloading unevenly, causing collapse of the bin structure.

Fire Safety USA and Nationwide Insurance describe the rescue tube unit as adaptable to a multitude of grain entrapment rescue scenarios. Panels are light-weight sections of 20 pounds measuring 16 inches wide and five feet long. Ball-and-socket joints form the panel connections, but still allow panel movement for variability in shape of the wall. There are bends in the panels and a hinge that runs each panel’s length to provide added strength to prevent cave-in on the victim.

When two young men suffocated in 2010 in a Carroll County, IL grain bin, a local company, Eastland Fabrication, LLC, was motivated to create this live-saving Great Wall tool. A spokesperson from Eastland said the company has clients from all around the world, as well as hundreds of models sold across the U.S. Prices for the unit start at $1,800.

Just this past August 8, a rural Glenville, MN fire department received an emergency call of a farmer who had fallen into a corn bin. When responders arrived, he was buried in corn up to his neck. The emergency unit had received the Great Wall rescue unit and the training two years earlier from this same contest, and they were able to save his life.

To better serve the community, the New Albin Fire Department is planning for additional farm-related safety and rescue training, available through the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Peosta. The Great Wall rescue tube is on site in New Albin, but can be deployed to any surrounding community should the need ever arise.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet