Grain Bin Rescue – Silos and Bins Loom as Death Traps on American Farms

How many of you have ever watched the ABC television show, “In an Instant?”  The episodethat aired on Saturday night, April 4, 2015 and is one that hits close to our communities.  As a county Extension Educator, Farm Safety is one of the most important topics our community can benefit from being educated about.  The “In an Instant” show was a reenactment of Arick Baker’s grain bin entrapment.  He is from New Providence, Iowa, and the accident happened in June 2013.  He was totally buried under several feet of corn for approximately 3 hours.  He was using a PVC pipe to try to break up some crusty corn inside a large bin when he was sucked down completely to the discharge hole of the bin.  He, his mom and his father, and rescue workers reenacted the day so accurately that it was almost like the actual day of the accident.

Interspersed with the terror of the reenactment were interludes of a few minutes where the people involved explained exactly how they felt that day.  I can’t imagine anyone in agriculture being able to watch the show without becoming emotionally involved.  This program was one of the most incredible that I have ever watched.  Arick’s mom had no trouble replicating the terror she felt that day while waiting for the rescue workers to find her son.  She drove her car to the bin site at 125 mph.  When she tried to call her daughter, she couldn’t event complete a sentence. 

The show was especially emotional for me because I can remember as a child heading out to the machine shed with my siblings and playing in the back of a hopper wagon full of corn, soybeans or wheat, without my parents or grandparents knowing.  Back in the 1980’s the grain wagons weren’t the size they are now, and it was fun to pretend were digging for a buried treasure.  At that time as young as we were, my brother and I had no idea how dangerous this could be – that is -- until my father found out.  Once dad explained the dangers, we were done playing in the hopper wagons. 

As I started at the Extension Office late in 2013, Farm Safety has been one of my highest priorities.  Since 1978, Purdue University has been documenting agricultural confined space incidents throughout the United States.  Approximately 1500 cases have been documented and entered into Purdue’s Agriculture Confined Spaces Incident Database (PACSID), with the earliest case dating back to 1964.  Today, too many times, victims of grain entrapment are working in much fuller bins, and things go south so quickly that they’re pulled beneath the pile and suffocated literally within seconds. 

Bin entrapments often end in utter tragedy: death of a father, sibling, other family member, or employee – maybe someone you ate dinner with every day or the last person to tell you “good night” each evening.  Now those “good nights” are gone forever.  National statistics show that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America.  Over the past 50 years, more than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported, and the fatality rate is 62%.  With a 10-inch auger, it take just 25 seconds for a 6-foot person to be completely buried in grain. 

This Friday evening, June 26, 2015, starting at 6:30 PM will be a live reenactment by the local Fire Departments and OSU Extension for farmers, families, community members, grain elevator employees or anyone with interest in farm safety and grain bins.  The best news is you don’t have to be from Paulding County to attend.  The OSU Extension Office at 503 Fairground Drive, Paulding, OH, 45879, will be the site of the basic reenactment and training. 

These are our communities and a free chance to be trained doesn’t come about very often.  With all the rain, why not take an evening and spend with your family learning about what you can do if you were put in this situation?  The Grain C.A.R.T. (Comprehensive Agricultural Rescue Trailer) is a partnership between Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Fire Academy and agribusinesses to address Ohio’s agriculture rescue training and education opportunities.    

I hope we are never in this situation of a grain bin entrapment in any of the counties in Ohio, but if we are and ONE life is saved, all the training was worth it!

For additional questions, you can email questions to noggle.17@osu.edu, walk in the OSU Extension Office at 503 Fairground Drive, Paulding, OH 45879 or call (419)399-8225.

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.

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