Fire department learns how to do grain bin rescues - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire department learns how to do grain bin rescues

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GARRISON (KWWL) - It's a call Iowa firefighters could get any day: Someone is stuck in a grain bin or wagon and is trapped in the corn.

One eastern Iowa fire department recently got new equipment to help them with these rescues, and KWWL's Michelle Corless served as a victim during training and describes the experience below:

It doesn't take much to get stuck in grain. With my legs partially under, I already realize I can't get out. Then, they open the bottom to show how quickly I could sink.

In less than 10 seconds my legs are under.

"Don't go into a grain bin," said Ron Shanahan, Instructor at the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. "If you are going into a grain bin, have a person with you so they can shut the auger off, but just never go in a grain bin with the auger running."

After I'm trapped, it's time for the Garrison Fire Department to learn how to use its new rescue equipment.

They're going to put a cofferdam around me, which will help the firefighters get some of the grain around me out of the way.

They've already been warned -- they have to work quickly.

"If you're in there at least 20 minutes or so, you start to have the pressure on your legs," said Shanahan. "It starts to cut off the blood flow to your legs and you start to have other issues."

This is the first time the firefighters have used the equipment -- and they're reminded that they need to keep the victim -- in this case, me -- calm.

Luckily, I'm not as claustrophobic as a lot of people I know, but this is still uncomfortable for me as they put the cofferdam together. It's like being stuck in a tunnel.

Then they bring out an auger to pump the corn out. I help inside, pushing the corn from behind me to the front where the auger is, and eventually I'm able to climb out.

Others then get their turn learning to use the new equipment before they get called to save someone from a grain bin or wagon.

The difference between saving someone from a grain bin and out of a grain wagon? Well, it's just the shape of the device. It's the same rescue skills.

"Next to highway rescues, this is probably the preeminent type of rescue situation we could run into here in our community, and it's the same for all rural communities across Iowa," said Steve Meyer, Garrison Fire Chief.

In these drills, we're all lucky. Us victims knew we'd be going in, so we're calmer than we would be in a real rescue -- and we're conscious.

Plus, firefighters don't have to spend time setting up the equipment. Now they've seen just how quickly they need to arrive if the real thing happens.

"Be prepared," said Cory Chapman, a volunteer firefighter. "Call for backup. Get there quickly and safely."

Garrison was one of 14 fire departments to receive a grant from DuPont Pioneer this year to buy this new equipment. There are still grants available. Interested fire chiefs should contact their local Pioneer sales representative.
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