For most people, the thought of being stuck in a grain bin, even if it’s only for training, can be terrifying.
But that wasn’t the case Saturday for Chelsea Taylor, a freshman enrolled in Iowa Central Community College’s fire science program.
Taylor, who portrayed the victim in a grain rescue demonstration at Health & Safety Day at the Crossroads Mall, said this was not a new experience.
“I’ve done it before, so it was not alarming,” she said. “You have to change your breathing.”
But even though she’s used to it, that wasn’t the case when she first went into the grain bin that was used for training.
“It was very claustrophobic,” she said. “You can’t breathe right.”
Fortunately for her, Badger Fire Capt. Don Ashenfelter, who supervised the training, made sure she was comfortable. He told Taylor to say when the corn in the simulated grain bin was too high or if she was getting uncomfortable.
Ashenfelter said it’s important for fire departments across Iowa to train for grain bin rescues. He said last year Iowa ranked first in the nation for the amount of grain bin deaths.
Among the tools firefighters use are panels that protect the victim from getting trapped even more and an auger that removes the corn from the area.
“Now all she has to do is scoop the grain from behind her to the front,” Ashenfelter said. “The auger will take care of the rest.”
He added that, in the event of a real grain bin rescue, a rescue helicopter should be nearby and ready to go.
The longer a victim is in there, the more likely blood isn’t flowing through their body. Gradually, it will cause their body to shut down.
At Saturday’s event, Iowa Central’s fire science students also got the opportunity to test their skills at extracting people from wrecked cars.
Although no one portrayed a victim during the extraction exercise, firefighters were able to practice removing the doors and roofs from vehicles in the mall parking lot.
Multiple agencies participated in Health & Safety Day, including the Fort Dodge Police Department, Fort Dodge Fire Department, Iowa State Patrol and Webster County Sheriff’s Department.
Firefighters from Badger, Harcourt, Dayton, Moorland, Gowrie, Duncombe and Clare also participated.
Melissa Verschoor, Crossroads Mall marketing director, said the annual Health & Safety Day is a good opportunity for the community to interact with public safety officials.
“The big part is awareness for the community to know who they are,” she said. “It’s also a way for the public to meet the Police Department and Fire Department in a nonemergency situation.”
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