Gibson County farmer Robert Wallis had an extra special reason to celebrate National FFA Week, which ended last weekend. The grain rescue tube firefighters used to free him was purchased jointly by two county FFA chapters.
According to the Princeton Daily Clarion, Wallis was trapped in grain up to his chest that collapsed around him while he was working in a bin. His son called 911 when he couldn't free him on his own.
The rescue tube used to free him from the grain was purchased and donated for use by local fire departments by Gibson Southern and Princeton FFA chapters. It collected dust since 2010, but was worth its weight in gold when it was needed.
Here's how the fire departments came to have the tube in the first place, notes Richard Ritter, long –time ag instructor and FFA advisor for Gibson Southern FFA. "We got the idea when one of my member's parents saw the rescue tube demonstrated at the farm show in Louisville," Ritter told Indiana Prairie Farmer. "When I took kids to the show later that same week, we watched the demo.
"The parent, Rick Schmitt, contacted the company to do a demonstration for his 4-H tractor club. After we saw the demonstration at their meeting, we decided to buy one for the fire department. Princeton FFA and FFA advisor James Bluebaum readily agreed to split the cost."
Gibson Southern FFA used money from crop plot projects to help purchase the tube. They typically donate part of the money to a charitable cause, including the Indiana FFA Foundation. "This seemed like a perfect way to give something back to the community which has always been tremendously supportive of FFA," Ritter says.
The farmer who was rescued helps Princeton FFA with their crop projects, and is a regular attendee at farm meetings held during winter workshops at Gibson Southern, Ritter noted.
What makes this rescue even more ironic is that the March issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, arriving in some mailboxes literally only days after the incident, features a young lady from Randolph Southern FFA who spearheaded a similar effort to obtain rescue tubes in her county. Volunteer firemen there have undergone training offered by Purdue University, and paid for by the Randolph County Farm Bureau. So far, their units are collecting dust, and they hope it stays that way. However, if they're ever needed, they're there, as was the case last week in Gibson County. Robert Wallis, for one, is glad the FFA members and advisors were far-sighted enough to invest money in a device that could save someone's life.