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Grain bin safety

By Staff | Oct 1, 2010

Dave Anderson, of Manson, struggles to free himself from grain entrapment during a grain bin rescue training at the Manson Fire Department on?Sept. 20 as Don AshenFelter with Professional Rescue Innovations talks him through the process. Manson, Clare, Barnum and Rockwell City volunteer firefighters attended the training.

MANSON – Dave Anderson, of Manson, was buried in corn up to his chest.

Try as he might, he could barely move, save for the four-minute struggle in which he successfully received his cell phone.

Then, with five bright yellow 6-foot tall panels called the Extricator, a barrier was created around Anderson, allowing enough corn to be shoveled away so that he could climb out.

The situation was merely an exercise during a grain bin rescue training held at the Manson Fire Department on?Sept. 20, and while grain entrapment may not occur frequently, it can happen.

Mark Hambleton, safety manager at Pro Cooperative in Pocahontas, said a 65-year-old farmer near Dickens died in May in a grain bin accident.

Don AshenFelter with Professional Rescue Innovations, left, and Mark Hambleton, safety manager with Pro Cooperative, demonstrate how to use plywood to aid in extricating someone who is trapped in grain during a grain bin rescue training at the Manson Fire Department Monday. The yellow panels to the left are part of the Extractor, a rescue tube designed by KC Supply, that also helps rescue people who are buried in grain.

“A lot of them are untold, but they happen,” Hambleton said of the potentially deadly incidents.

Knowing this information, Pro Cooperative gave $3,000 grants to go toward the purchase of the Extrictator for Manson, Pocahontas and Ruthven volunteer fire departments.

“It’s a piece of equipment we felt is a necessity in the community,”Hambleton said. “We felt we would put them in the fire departments’ hands because they’ll be the ones to be called in the case of an emergency.”

However, Hambleton said it would be great if the rescue tubes were only used for training purposes since prevention is the main key to grain bin safety.

“Just a reminder, people should never enter a grain bin alone, or leave anything running when entering the grain bin,” Hambleton said. “That’s the best prevention.”

Surrounded by the Extrictor Dave Anderson, of Manson, tries to dig his way out of sea of corn with the help of co-workers Monday night. Anderson volunteered for the experience as part of grain bin rescue training held in Manson Monday night. The Extricator was purchased by the department with a $3,000 grant from Pro Cooperative.

However, when grain is out of condition, a farmer may do something he wouldn’t normally do, said Don Struhenberg who was one of the Professional Rescue Innovations trainers Monday.

For example, Struhenberg talked with the firefighters about “bridging” that may occur in grain bins. This happens when there is molding, moisture or poor grain condition, and a hallow cavity develops under a top of crusted grain as grain is removed from the bin.

If a farmer is in that bin when the bridge collapses, they will be buried in seconds, he said.

During the training, volunteer firefighters from Manson, Clare, Rockwell City and Barnum not only learned how to use the Extricator, a grain bin rescue tube created by KC Supply, but also how to cut holes in a grain bin, use plywood as a rescue tool, and other relevant information, such as testing the air quality in the bin.

John Colshan, Manson Volunteer Fire Department Chief, said in 19 years the department has never been called to assist in a grain entrapment rescue.

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared,” Colshan said, as he watched the others practice digging Anderson out of the corn.

The rescue tube also alleviates pressure from around the person’s body, Struhenberg said, which can potentially help prevent spinal injuries.

“If a person is waist deep in grain, it takes 400 pounds to pull that person out,” Struhenberg said. “At 50 pounds, vertebra start to separate, and at a 100 pounds spinal cord damage can occur.”

“It’s not the most pleasant place to be,” Anderson said, after he was removed from the small bin of corn. “I can’t imagine what I would do if I was in that situation. There’s nothing you can do.”

Contact Lindsey Mutchler at (515) 573-2141 or lindsey@messengernews.net.

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