Bill Field, the Purdue University farm and safety specialist, helped design and complete a prototype of the rescue board system that can be used to remove someone trapped inside a grain bin. Today, the product is available from commercial sources.
The rescue tubes have been used successfully to help a few people survive during grain bin entrapments. "Sometimes people are alive when first responders arrive, and don't know what to do," Field says. "They can actually be put in more danger during the rescue effort if people trying to do the rescue don't know what they're doing. They need to understand about grain bins and what pressures they're up against."
Some local volunteer fire departments have already purchased their own rescue boards, Field says. They were used successfully last year on more than one occasion in Indiana to remove someone alive form a grain bin.
Some of Field's staff have conducted seven training sessions this month around the state, focusing primarily on how to use these rescue boards in case of a grain bin entrapment incident. Class size was purposely limited to 30, but enrollment was increased to 48 at some sites to meet demand. Field and his staff intend to offer more classes later this session since some people had to be turned away from the training.
"It's good to see so many volunteer fire people wanting to know about how to do farm rescues," Field says. A couple generations ago or even a generation ago, many of the volunteer firefighters in a community were farmers, and had some knowledge of the arm. That's no longer true today. Very few are farmers. Many departments have volunteers who aren't aware of what to expect when they are called to an accident at a farm."
Despite the progress in saving victims in trapped grain, and while tire mains a horrible way to die and an avoidable type of accident. Field notes that it is still nowhere near the leading cause of death on Indiana farms. Tractor overturns have been the leading cause for years, and are still the leading cause today.
Typically, tractor overturns or some type of accident involving a tractor will account for about half of the fatalities in Indiana in any one year. So while grain bin rescue training is important, farmers need to be reminded not to take risks with tractors, Field notes.