More people die on farms each year in tractor-related accidents than in any other way. That's true now and has been true every year for as long as records on such things have been kept, says Bill Field, Purdue University farm safety specialist. Many people drive tractors, and often put themselves and the tractor in dangerous situations.
Nevertheless, even though the actual number of fatalities is far less, grain bin accidents have picked up a lot of notice in recent years. A likely cause is that most people underestimate the power of flowing grain and don't associate a grain bin with the risk of a fatal accident, and these grain bin entrapments have a high-fatality rate. They end in tragedy more times than not.
However, the goal is to try to change that last truism. One problem in the past has been that fire crews or other first responders unfamiliar with farms, let alone grain bins, don't know how to react when they reach the scene. Every second counts, Field notes, because if a person is submerged, they usually can't last very long in the grain mass. There are cases where someone had kernels of corn fit just so under their nose that they could still breathe and survived, but those instances are few and far between.
Typically, in the past it took up to an hour and a half to rescue victims. Part of that was because responders argued over everything from who had jurisdiction to whether to cut a hole in a bin, to how to free the victim. The invention of rescue tubes has helped, but only if the victim is reached in time. A trapped farmer in southern Indiana was successfully rescued earlier this year.
Farm Credit Services of Mid-America recently donated $25,000 to Purdue University's grain training program through a grant. This will allow the highly successful training program to continue in Indiana and spread in to surrounding states. Farm Credit Services of Mid-America covers Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
There is a cost for the training. The donation will likely help the Purdue training team offer scholarships so the training is less expensive, encouraging more fire departments and EMT services to have their employees trained for on-farm rescues, particularly when someone is trapped inside a grain bin.