The bad news is that 2010 was a banner year for grain bin entrapments and fatalities all across the country. National statistics report 46 entrapments this year alone, with 25 fatalities. Nearly three-fourths of them occurred on farms. The rest occurred at commercial facilities.
It's not that this news wasn't expected. The 2009 grain crop that went into the bin and came out in 2010 was one of the lowest quality crops in much of the Midwest in a long time. Many fields were riddled with diseases, which resulted in fungi on the grain. They will stop growing in the bin, but only below certain moisture levels. There are other fungi that can grow inside the bin even at somewhat lower levels. Nearly all of the grain harvested a year ago was wet and had to be dried.
That doesn't excuse the pain and suffering for those who have lost loved ones, however. If there's good news, at least in Indiana, it's that's the demand for training on how to handle such accidents by firefighters and first responders has been phenomenal this year. Purdue University's Bill Field said they set up a series of trainings over the summer, and had to expand the number of participants allowed at nearly every one. In addition, other meetings have been held that were sponsored by local fire departments or other groups, and held in the local area.
One of those was the White River Township Fire Department training in Hamilton County. They hosted rescue training for some 30 firemen, conducted by Field, in early December. The training included both a primer on the dangers of flowing grain, and how to use rescue tubes. There are at least three products now on the market that would aid first responders in trying to secure and free someone caught in grain that was still alive.
The grain rescue tubes, if installed around the victim in time, help prevent crushing of the chest and complete burial of the victim. During the training, the firemen also practiced and reviewed proper points of access for getting to a victim in a grain bin. How holes are cut and grain is released from a bin may determine if the structure stays intact, and what impact there might be on the victim still trapped inside, assuming the victim is still alive.
Beck's Hybrids supported the group so they could hold the meeting. The fire department raised $3,000 for purchase of a grain rescue tube. Cicero and Tipton County Fire Departments will also have access to using the tube.