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Barlow VFD hosts training session on grain bin rescues

Firefighters use rescue equipment to retrieve a trapped person from a simulator during training Saturday at the Barlow Volunteer Fire Department. (Photo Provided)

BARLOW — Area firefighters were trained on how to use rescue equipment to remove a person trapped in a grain bin Saturday at the Barlow Volunteer Fire Department.

The Ohio Fire Academy brought a grain bin simulator to show firefighters and EMTs from Barlow, Dunham VFD, Wesley VFD, Little Hocking VFD and Warren VFD how the rescue equipment is used.

Emily Seaman, Barlow VFD firefighter/A-EMT, said the grain bin simulator had been in the county once before, but not at Barlow.

Barlow Fire Chief Ryan Cox said they received a grant for the grain bin rescue equipment three or four years ago.

“What this is for is if a farmer was to go into the grain bin and they would get trapped in the grain, this specialized equipment helps to remove them,” he said. The equipment is made of several metal shields that slide together to encircle the victim.

Firefighters and EMT are shown how the rescue equipment locks together to surround the victim. Once the shield is shoved down around the victim, the grain is pumped out and the victim can climb out of the grain bin. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

Cox said once the shield is put around the person, the grain is removed which takes the pressure off the victim.

“If they are trapped up to their waist or their belly, once we take that pressure off them, then they can climb out on their own,” he said.

Cox explained there’s a classroom portion of the training, followed by lunch. After lunch, participants learned the basic operations of the equipment.

He said they learned in the classroom portion that farmers have let the grain sit in the grain bin all winter and now the market’s up and they are going to start selling. Now is when they are transferring grain from the bins, which is where problems occur, he said.

“Because the corn will get a layer of crust on the top, they’ll try to knock it off and get the corn flowing again so they can get it trucked out,” Cox said. “Usually when they go in on top of that crust, they either break through or they find a void pocket and that’s where they find themselves in trouble.”

He noted there are large farms with grain bins in the county “so the potential is here, but knock on wood, we’ve not had that exact scenario.”

He said Saturday was awareness training. They used corn hauled in from Hicks Farm so it will be an exact replica of what it would be like in the grain bin.

Cox explained other departments were invited to the training because more people would be needed during a rescue.

“If we were to have an event, we most certainly would be calling other departments because it takes a lot of manpower. You have to put three to four people inside with the victim,” he said.

“You have to have people on the outside handing up equipment and getting the ropes. These are kind of like haz-mat incidents because they are more long and drawn out. Everything has to be planned. You don’t just cut a hole in the side of the grain bin and let the grain out because it will suck the victim lower. Everything has to be planned and timed and coordinated.”

The fire department received the grant to initially get the equipment. Cox said since then, they’ve reached out and had farmers and the Washington County Farm Bureau donate.

They’ve gotten a tandem axle trailer and enclosed trailer which is hooked up to the brush truck. Equipment such as ropes and harnesses will be purchased through donations and the remainder of the grant, he said.

Seaman said their trailer was put in memory of 19-year-old Colton Decker, who died in August 2019 due to a tractor rollover.

“We’ve gotten thousands of dollars in donations in memory of him,” she said. “We put it toward some EMS equipment and that (trailer). The farm bureau also gave us a very generous donation.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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