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Safety class called Farm Frenzy

By Staff | Apr 27, 2014

RILEY ANDERSON pulls on a rope inside a makeshift grain bin, to see if he could extract someone trapped in flowing grain. The biggest of the youths attending, he could not pull hard enough to overcome the down pressures of flowing grain.

EVERLY-Young people and their well-being is something close to Al Grigg’s heart.

Because of that, he said he remains a firm believer in teaching them how to be safe on the farm.

He helped organize and facilitate an event called, Farm Frenzy on April 12 in Everly-a morning-long event designed primarily for middle school students, created to bring awareness of the dangers that lurk around farms.

It was sponsored through the combined efforts of Clay County Extension and the Clay Central-Everly FFA.

“We want to make our young people aware of the dangers on the road,” said Grigg, a volunteer with Clay County Extension, “on the farm, in grain bins, on ATVs, around power-take-off shafts and things like that.

STUDENT MORGAN JENSEN is loaded into an ambulance to give her a feel of what it would be like.

“Farms can be a safe place to work if things are done correctly.”

A representative of Clay County Emergency Management spoke to the 13 youths in attendance about road safety.

“If you’re driving a vehicle and you come upon a tractor ahead of you,” Griggs said, “you need to know what to do because that tractor is not going the same speed you are,” said Grigg. “What if the tractor is going to make a left turn, but you were going to pass?

“You need to know what to do if you’re following behind.”

Grigg said safety on the road was taught from the viewpoint of someone driving a tractor or other implement. Though people don’t always find it important, Grigg said the safety belt is placed into farm vehicles for a reason.

JOHN GALM tries his hand at using a fire extinguisher, under the direction of an Everly volunteer fireman.

“We tell young people that it’s important to buckle that seat belt,” he said, “and we share with them information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, that says almost all fatalities they experience are people who could have been saved if they had only worn their seat belt.”

Attendees were told to never get into a bin, wagon or truck with flowing grain- ever.

“Flowing grain creates a vacuum that can suck you in 5 seconds,” Griggs said, “and once you’re in up to your waist, you can’t get out by yourself.”

Students there were given the opportunity to see how much weight they could pull as they tugged on a rope that came out of a makeshift grain bin.

Factors in a makeshift rescue included their own weight, the weight of the person being pulled out, plus the force that moving grain creates on the person being extracted.

ART HAMRICK, a Spencer area farmer, shows attendees of the Farm Frenzy in Everly what his new winter coat looked like after his arm became entangled in an auger. “I’m lucky to be live, and I’m lucky to have my arm,” he told them.

None of the children there were able to pull on the rope hard enough to remove any of their friends who were attending, based on the factors above.

Grigg said Clay County has experienced two fatalities involving flowing grain within the last five years.

Attendees learned about safety while driving all-terrain vehicles, because they’re used on so many jobs around farms and acreages.

“ATVs are so powerful now-you can go from zero to 75 or 80 miles per hour in seconds, and there are no restrictions,” said Grigg. “We tell them how to operate them safely, and that they are not supposed to be driven on the road – only in pastures and places like that.”

Members of the Everly Fire Department were on hand to teach children how to operate a fire extinguisher, with each child getting a chance to actually put out a fire created by a fire fighter.

“Farms can be a safe place to work if things are done correctly.” -Al Griggs Event coordinator

They were also taught the main element of putting out a fire with an extinguisher – aim it at the base of the fire.

They also told youths that if they’re in a tractor or combine that starts on fire, to get out and call 911 first.

If there is no extinguisher available, they could throw dirt on the fire if they deemed it to be in a place where they were safe in doing so – where tractor or implement gas tanks were not immediately affected or close to the fire.

“The key is to just be safe,” said Seth Skalisky, an Everly fire fighter. “Tractors and combines can be replaced if they burn up.

“The best thing to do is get out and call 911.”

Everly Fire and Rescue also gave students the chance to see what it would be like to be injured and be loaded into a waiting ambulance.

One of their peers was deemed to have fallen from a grain bin and was treated exactly as she would have if the fall had actually occurred.

Her friends gathered around to watch.

“This is very serious business,” said Susan Sembach, an emergency management technician.

“These children here don’t have driver’s licenses today,” Griggs said, “but at some point they will be driving, and if they’re working around someone’s farm, chances are they won’t be taught about safety on the job – they’ll just be expected to go to work.”

Skid loader safety was part of the morning, teaching children about leverage, keeping the load low, placement of the heavy end while maneuvering up hills, awareness of blind spots and about calling 811 if they’re digging a hole, to inquire about underground cables.

Clay County farmer Art Hamrick ended the day by telling his story of getting his arm caught in an auger in a 1996 accident as he was working with grain on his Spencer-area farm.

He had an IH 460 tractor hooked to an auger’s power take off.

While trying to maneuver something on the auger, his coat became entangled, catching his arm and squeezing his clothes so tight on him that he felt like he was going to choke to death.

Because of his size and strength, the tractor killed, which is what saved Hamrick’s life that day.

Hamrick showed the children his coat and sweatshirt he was wearing that day, in tatters. The children looked on with 100 percent focus.

“I’m telling you kids something,” Hamrich said, “I’m lucky to be alive, and I’m lucky to have my arm.

“It doesn’t always turn out that way.”

He encouraged them to not take short-cuts when it comes to farm safety.

“Always shut off the tractor first if you’re going to change something you’re working on,” he said.

“I came because I wanted to learn more about safety on the farm,” said John Galm, 13, of Everly. “I learned that you shouldn’t leave equipment unattended, and that the man who got caught in the auger was pretty lucky-the timing (of the tractor killing) was lucky for him.”

Sydney Jensen, 14, of Everly, said she wanted to know more about ATV safety, since she uses them on the farm and helps out there often.

“I learned that ATVs are meant for only one person, and to go slow up hills,” she said.

Grigg, who used to organize and facilitate 24-hour tractor certification courses for teenagers until it was hard to get them to attend, said the event was successful if it helped just one of those who were there.

“Our goal is to save lives and avoid disasters,” he said. “Accidents take only a split second, so prevention is key.

“Until someone points these things out to young people, many of them don’t have a clue.”

Grigg said farm safety education has changed and evolved in the last 20 years as much as farms have changed and evolved in that time.

“Young people don’t have the hands-on experiences on the farm they had 20 years ago,” he said. “But we’ll keep doing these farm safety camps like this for as long as the kids will come.”

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