WEST ALEXANDRIA — Students and adults alike got the chance to learn about the dangers of, and rescue equipment used during, grain bin entrapment last week.
Twin Valley South Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC) FFA chapter hosted a demonstration by Ohio State University (OSU) Extension’s Grain C.A.R.T. (Comprehensive Agricultural Rescue Trailer) on Friday, Aug. 23, and Saturday, Aug. 24.
On Friday, Aug. 23, students from fifth to 12th grade had the opportunity to hear a presentation from Lisa Pfeifer, Educational Program Manager with OSU, and tour the Grain C.A.R.T. On Saturday, Aug. 24, firefighters with West Alexandria and neighboring departments had the opportunity to train with the Grain C.A.R.T.
According to FFA Advisor Alison Derringer, they brought the Grain C.A.R.T. into town in hopes of educating the community on some of the dangers associated with agriculture.
“Our 2018-19 chapter officers and myself felt it was important to do some type of assembly to educate the community about the dangers related to agriculture. We had seen the Grain C.A.R.T. at Farm Science Review as well as at National Convention and thought it was a perfect way to involve not only our school, but the local fire department as well,” she said.
“We coordinated with them to have the Grain C.A.R.T. training be part of their required monthly training and they paid for it to be brought to the school for our Friday assembly. The fireman trained with it on Saturday, Aug. 24. Our Twin Valley South FFA Alumni also played a part in bringing the C.A.R.T. here and helped sponsor lunch for the fire fighters Saturday.”
She added, 136 middle school students, 225 high school students, and 66 fifth grade students had the opportunity to hear the presentation from Pfeifer on Friday.
“Lisa shared the dangers of playing or working in grain bins without proper equipment as well as how grain can entrap someone if not properly secured. Students were able to see how easy it is for someone to become trapped in the bin as well as be suffocated if enough grain surrounds your body. The equipment fire fighters use to rescue victims was also displayed. Students also had a chance to test how much weight they could pull based on the amount it would take to pull someone out of the grain bin at different levels,” Derringer said.
According to Pfeifer, the Grain C.A.R.T. was built to be utilized for outreach education and First Responder training.
“When the Grain C.A.R.T. travels to a community we like to dovetail the programming to train to both sides of the equation; prevention and rescue. The Grain C.A.R.T. was used Friday morning to warn about the hazards associated with grain handling. Topics covered ranged from equipment hazards, fall hazards, grain engulfment, lock out/tag out, and reaction times to the equipment used by fire fighters to rescue someone engulfed in grain and the process fire fighters go through in a rescue of that nature.
“All age ranges of youth living in rural communities can benefit from knowing the dangers present on farms regardless of whether they live directly on a farm property or not. Any student at Twin Valley South may at some point in their life visit a friend or relative living on a farm or may work in the agriculture sector at some future point. Young people also tend to be conversation starters when they participated in a program like the school offered on Friday and sometimes those conversations with the adults at home end up leading to positive changes in safety culture on the farm.”
According to John Glander, Assistant Chief of West Alexandria Fire Department, grain bin rescue has been one of the biggest issues they have had in the area. They don’t have to do a grain bin rescue very often, but the department is also looking to advance their rescue skills skills and be prepared in case they are needed. This is why it was important that the department had the opportunity to train with the Grain C.A.R.T. on Saturday.
“We have several large operations within our jurisdiction. We also have several small farm grain bins around – which are the ones we worry about the most. Those are operated by farmers independently and may not follow the same safeties as the larger operations will,” he said. “We always want to respond quickly and efficiently. Sometimes we come across incidents where if we didn’t train on them, we wouldn’t know what to do.
“In this case, we’ve got a lot of good skills. I’ve been around grain bins my whole life, and I learned a few things I didn’t know. We can never stop learning, never stop sharpening our skills.”
When asked what he would say to the public about grain bin safety, Glander said, “Never enter an operating grain bin. Always make sure guards are in place on rotating equipment. Farming is a dangerous operation, always make sure to follow all the safety rules. When in doubt, lock it out.”
He added, “I wanted to say a special thank you to Alison Derringer for setting up the training. Also, thank you to the State of Ohio Fire Academy for putting on the training and providing all rescue facilities. Thank you to Brubaker Grain and Chemical for donating the grain to be used with the training. Also, thanks to the West Alexandria Fire Department for providing the opportunity for us to hone our skills. We would also like to thank Gratis Fire Department for attending and we also had one individual from Lancaster County Fire Department.”