Firemen practice corn rescue

Mary Atkinson · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Members of the West Liberty Fire Department got to experience first hand, Aug. 18, what it's like to be stuck in a farmer's bin full of grain.

The purpose of the training was to learn the ins and outs of grain bin rescue, as well as to show firemen what it's like to be stuck inside the corn. The department also acquired the equipment necessary for such a rescue.

"The training allows the fire fighters to experience what it wold be like to be stuck in the corn and waiting for rescue," said Project Coordinator Sarah Billeter. "This hands free demonstration allows each person to understand a small version of what the victim is feeling and the pressure the corn can put on the body."

The fire fighters were submerged in corn up to their waist, unable to move from the position.

"When a 165 pound person is sunk in corn they can actually weigh around 300 hundred pounds," Billeter said.

The rescue consists of two firefighters getting into the bin and placing a specially designed tube around the person in sections. When the full tube is put together around the victim a vacuum is used to suck out the corn inside it. That pulls the tubes down and the victim is lifted out.

"I can say I was amazed at how fast the grain sucked me down in there," said Fire Chief Robbie Rock, who was submerged in the corn for the training.

"Hopefully, we'll never have to use the device, but it assures the farming community we have the equipment and trained officials if we ever have to use it."

Brian Flake, chief paramedic for West Liberty said the equipment is a great addition to the department.

"It was a simple concept," Flake said, "I mean any Tom and Harry could have figured it out, it was a creative thing."

The training was held at the Ag Services and Products building, a company owned by Dick Buysee. He also sponsored the event.

"I want to say that the equipment and the training they have received will be very beneficial if anyone ever gets caught in a grain bin," Buysee said.

"I mean, the odds of anyone getting trapped in there are very small, but the odds of the firemen getting there at the right time are small too. But they have the equipment and the training now," he added. The firemen now have a faster response time.

With grant money from the the National Educations Center for Agriculture Safety (NECAS) West Liberty was able to obtain the necessary equipment.

Sarah Billeter wrote a grant for the equipment after associate John Black, a local Pioneer Dealer, contacted her and told the Dupont Pioneer Giving Program had some funds set aside specifically for the grain bin rescue tubes.

Billeter has written other successful grants for area fire departments such as West Branch and Tipton.
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