I had the opportunity recently to attend an event in my hometown of Newcastle, in northeast Nebraska, and I gladly took advantage of it. A friend was presented with a grain rescue tube he won at this fall's Husker Harvest Days, in a drawing sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board.
Ray Kneifl of Newcastle endured the cool, rainy conditions at HHD to sign up for the drawing. Bob Ziemba of Cedar Rapids was the other winner in the HHD contest.
Kneifl, in turn, presented the grain rescue tube to Newcastle Fire and Rescue squad in a ceremony attended by the representatives of the two corn groups, as well as DuPont Pioneer and GSI, Inc. officials.
GSI manufactures the tubes and sell them at a discount to rural fire departments while DuPont Pioneer, through its Community Investment Program, picks up the remaining costs.
Grain rescue tubes consist of four panels that are inserted into the grain around a partially engulfed victim. The panels are attached into a circular tube which serves as a dam to prevent grain from flowing back around the victim. With the tube in place, grain around the person can be removed to allow a rescue to take place.
The tubes are finding homes in more rural fire departments, but they are costly. There is a big need for more of them because of the hazards of working in and around grain bins. As Mat Habrock of DuPont Pioneer says, "The chances of survival for that person are greatly increased if there is a grain rescue tube available to fire departments nearby."
The donation of these two grain rescue tubes is a good time to remind ourselves of grain entrapment prevention guidelines. We read far too often about deaths and near-misses in accidents in and around grain bins.
Heed the following guidelines:
- Develop a "zero-entry mentality." Stay out of the bin, if at all possible.
- Never enter a bin with grain in it by yourself. Farmers, family, members and employees must work together and be able to communicate effectively with each other.
- If it's necessary to enter the bin, remember to shut off the power to augers and fans.
- Identify all hazards in your grain handling system.
- All equipment involved in storage and drying and handling systems should be locked out and tagged during entry, service and maintenance.
- Identify the emergency response group nearest you.
The State Fire Marshall's office offers training to fire departments on the use of the tubes. Contact Bill Pfeifer at 402-641-7194.
A grain rescue tube is a valuable tool to save lives, but following these principles will exclude the need to use it.