Area officials learn grain rescue tips“Somebody call 911,” yelled Aaron Fink as he held onto the edge of a grain trailer inside the Farmers Alliance elevator in Mitchell. “We’ve got somebody in the grain!” The head protruding out of the grain Thursday afternoon didn’t belong to a human, but rather a 175-pound dummy named “Randy.”
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
“Somebody call 911,” yelled Aaron Fink as he held onto the edge of a grain trailer inside the Farmers Alliance elevator in Mitchell. “We’ve got somebody in the grain!”
The head protruding out of the grain Thursday afternoon didn’t belong to a human, but rather a 175-pound dummy named “Randy.”
It was all part of an afternoon safety exercise on grain rescue conducted by the Mitchell Fire Division and Farmers Alliance and led by Ken Bouwman of Regulatory and Industrial Safety Consulting in Granite Falls, Minn.
Bouwman led the men through four rotations of a mock emergency where “Randy” had been trapped in grain because of the suction from a running auger.
To remove the dummy, firefighters use a recently purchased rescue tube. When the four pieces are assembled, the tube is placed around the victim, allowing rescue officials to use a wet-dry vacuum to remove grain from around the victim until he can be removed using a tripod or other type of equipment.
During the mock rescue, Marius Laursen, paramedic and firefighter for the Mitchell Fire Division, and other officials took their roles seriously, setting up scaffolding around the victim so as not to move more grain around the body and providing frequent updates on the condition of the victim.
As he caught his breath after the mock rescue, Laursen said the training was a good refresher about the specific rescue procedure.
He was surprised, though, by the difficult nature of maneuvering in the grain.
“Trying to walk through that corn is a lot of work. It’s amazing,” Laursen said. “It’s like walking through mud.”
Firefighters from Mitchell Fire Division and Rosedale Colony attended the training Thursday afternoon as did employees of Swenson Bros. Grain in Lane, including Fink.
Near the grain rescue training, attendees took turns hoisting each other in the air in order to better prepare for removing an actual victim from grain.
Gerrad Doering, operations manager for Farmers Alliance in Mitchell, said he believed every participant took something from the afternoon training.
“(Accidents) happen. I’ve never been involved in one myself, but they happen around the nation,” Doering said. “It’s a good idea for everybody to be aware of some of the situations they may encounter.”
As a sign of the group’s commitment, Farmers Alliance purchased the rescue tube used during Thursday’s training and donated it to the Mitchell Fire Division.
The tube, estimated to cost approximately $2,400, left both Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris and Capt. Ben Vanden Hoek grateful for the donation.
“We’ve never used a rescue tube before,” Vanden Hoek said. “It’s a huge benefit.”
Morris said he’s glad that some of his men are now trained in grain rescue procedures.
“I feel more confident if they feel confident that they’re going to be able to deal with this situation,” Morris said.
Bouwman said he’s been training workers across the nation since 1972. He was pleased with the work of Thursday’s participants.
As he prepared the final group of trainees for a grain rescue exercise, he offered a stern and simple rule to the men.
“Don’t go in a bed with a moving auger,” he said. “Period.”