More than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported in the past 50 years with a fatality rate of 62%. In 2020, grain entrapments led to 20 deaths in the U.S., according to Purdue University.
To help prevent grain entrapment deaths in rural America, Nationwide, an insurer of farms and ranches, in partnership with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, is awarding 48 fire departments across the country — including three in Ohio — with life-saving grain rescue tubes and hands-on training to prepare them to respond when entrapments occur.
After receiving more than 1,000 nominations in the annual Nominate Your Fire Department Contest, a key piece of Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety advocacy campaign, the insurer and its partners are awarding three Ohio fire departments: Ripley Fire Department in Ripley, the Clinton-Warren joint fire district in Clarksville and the Jerome Township Division of Fire in Plain City.
NECAS, based out of Peosta, Iowa, will deliver the rescue equipment and training to the winning fire departments throughout 2021, traveling to each location with state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulators and rescue tubes. The comprehensive training sessions include classroom education and rescue simulations using the entrapment tools, which are loaded onto 20-foot trailers and able to hold about 100 bushels of grain each.
“It only takes seconds, or a simple mistake, for an adult to sink in the quicksand-like flow of grain and become fully entrapped or engulfed,” says Brad Liggett, Nationwide’s president of agribusiness. “Adding to the risk is a lack of rescue equipment available to local fire departments and emergency responders who are called for help when a worker becomes trapped.”
Nationwide initiated its Grain Bin Safety campaign in 2014 to educate those entering grain bins about the hazards involved and the importance of implementing safe entry procedures. A central piece of the campaign, the Nominate Your Fire Department Contest, aims to address the lack of specialized resources available to fire departments who are responding to bin entrapments.
With 2021 donations included, Nationwide and partners have supplied these resources to 200 departments across 30 states. At least four fire departments have used their rescue tubes and training to successfully rescue entrapped workers.