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These folks get prepared for grain bin disasters

Casey Campbell stood on top of grain in a small bin. She knew someone was about to turn on an auger to empty grain into a wagon. Who could blame her if she felt a little nervous? A farmgirl, she had heard stories about the dangers of flowing grain.

Actually, she wasn’t in danger. The Franklin Community High School FFA freshman was participating in a mock demonstration to show how rescue tubes could be used to retrieve a victim. She was actually safely harnessed to a cable and allowed to sink slowly into the grain.

If something went wrong, the cable would protect her from sinking too deep. Once she was partially submerged, other “volunteers” from the crowd used a set of GSI rescue tubes to show how she could be removed. One of the “rescuers” was Cody Snyder, also a Franklin FFA freshman.

Key Points

Secret to avoiding grain bin entrapment — stay out of bin.

The volunteer “victim” feels helpless once legs are trapped.

Franklin farmwife helps county agencies obtain rescue tubes.


This mock demonstration at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Franklin was staged for farmers. Later the same crew, furnished by GSI, conducted training for local fire departments and EMTs, focusing on grain bin rescues.

Their message was straightforward — grain bin entrapments are often, but not always, fatal. The correct approach is to assume the victim is still alive. The rescue tubes make a possible rescue easier.

Various models are available. The set offered by GSI consists of four pieces. When shoved into the grain around the victim and locked together, they form a tube which makes it easier to retrieve someone.

Story behind the story

Young Campbell’s mock rescue at that program grew out of an effort by her mother, Jennifer Campbell, to increase awareness of the hazards of grain bin entrapment and to take steps to do something abut it. She and her husband, Chris, farm near Franklin.

Motivated by participation in Leadership Johnson County, a leadership training program, she and others formed an endowment for agriculture within the Community Foundation. That’s how they sponsored the demonstration.

Her goal was also to purchase two sets of rescue tubes, one for each side of the county, place them where any volunteer group could access them, then hope they gathered dust. Sets of tubes cost about $3,000 each.

Thanks to two generous donors, National Starch, Indianapolis, and Schafstall Inc., Edinburgh, a GSI dealer, the sets were donated.

“We keep the set at our facility in an unlocked room, and anyone is encouraged to come get them if they need them,” says Brian Martin, owner of Crystal Springs Grain, Needham. He supplies corn to National Starch. The other set is housed at the Bargersville Fire Department.

“We hope they’re never needed,” Jennifer says. “But if they are, they’re available to whomever needs them. Grain bin accidents are often fatal, but if these can help save a life, then all of this effort will have been worth it.”

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Too real! Once the grain covers their knees and they can’t move, the volunteers taking part in this grain bin demonstration say it gets too eerie, too much like the real thing.

This article published in the July, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.