Grain bins are increasing in number and size across Tennessee, thus creating more opportunities for entrapments or accidents and fatalities for farmers. County rescue personnel need training as it relates to grain bin safety and proper rescue techniques; farmers need to know the role they play if an accident or entrapment occurs on their farm. For this reason, seven counties within the Lower Middle Tennessee group of UT Extension agents partnered with Tennessee Agribility, Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), and Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads (TARS) to deliver a Grain Entrapment Awareness training that was conducted on March 12 and 13, 2021 at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education center in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Ron Van Heusen (Buffalo River Fire & Rescue), Richard Williams (Buffalo River Fire & Rescue), Kenneth Pate (Holly Creek Volunteer Fire & Rescue), John Hooker (Holly Creek Volunteer Fire & Rescue), and Nathan Duren (Duren Farms) from Wayne County were in attendance.
Participants in this training spent Friday evening learning about a variety of topics and procedures, including grain entrapments, grain flow, auger safety, and the importance of farmers and responders working together. On Saturday, participants were trained on two different grain rescue tubes. Grain bin rescue tubes have proven to save one’s life in case of an entrapment. Without the tube, grain would continue to flow around the victim resulting in a fatality instead of a rescue. It takes less than 5 seconds to become trapped in flowing grain and less than 30 seconds to become fully engulfed. Thus, the urgency to put something around the victim as soon as possible to decrease the flow of grain around the victim in case of an entrapment. Thanks to Will Hudson from Ethridge, TN, our responders and producers were able to practice using two types of rescue tubes to rescue entrapped individuals out of actual grain. One brave soul volunteered to be buried in grain and the rest of the team worked together to get him or her out by utilizing the rescue tubes and other equipment.
Not only did participants walk away with grain entrapment awareness, prevention and response skills gained, each county went home with one (1) Great Wall of Rescue Tube and a number of Turtle Plastics Rescue tubes, thanks to generous donations from sponsors. Wayne County was given one (1) Great Wall of Rescue Tube thanks to Wayne County Farm Bureau and three (3) Turtle Plastics Rescue Tubes thanks to the following sponsors: Aviagen, Bungee, Farm Credit, TN Valley Commodities, Pioneer, Nutrien, Syngenta, and DeKalb/AsGrow/Bayer. The goal is a rescue, not a fatality, when it comes to grain bin entrapments. Time is of essence. These rescue tubes will be placed throughout the county to ensure response time is 30 minutes or less to any grain entrapment within Wayne County. Though our hope is that, apart from departmental training, these tubes will never have to be used.
This training was incredibly impactful, timely, and will undoubtedly save lives. But, this training is just the beginning. For our responders, further training and equipment, such as a drill-powered auger and harnesses, are needed to help in a grain rescue. For our community, grain entrapments and other farm accidents are best avoided by education and awareness. If you live on or near a farm, be sure you, your family, and your neighbors know of the potential hazards and how to avoid them.