On a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning the Teutopolis Fire Protection District members gathered at the station to receive a grain bin rescue tube that they were awarded from a Nationwide Insurance Grain Bin Safety Week contest, along with KC Supply Co., CHS, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) and other sponsors.

Dan Neenan, director of NECAS in Peosta, Iowa arrived with the Res-Q-Tube, valued at $2,600 and 4 hours of training, bringing the total package to $5,200. The training began inside the station with a PowerPoint presentation on statistics regarding grain entrapments and then moving outside to Neenan's unique trailer.

The 20-foot-long trailer has a state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulator that allows the firefighters to participate in a demonstration of safe entrapment. Neenan had the inspiration for the design of the simulator and it definitely gives the firefighters a hands-on experience for grain entrapment rescues.

The Res-Q-Tube that the fire department received is about 60” tall and weighs about 27 pounds and comes apart in 4 panels that are fitted around the individual that is entrapped by grain in an elevator.

Once it is fitted in, the panels are then fastened back together. The Res-Q-Tube stops the flow of grain towards the victim and also blocks any additional pressure that may be created by rescuers. At this point the grain is removed from around the victim. On Sunday, they used an auger to remove the corn and the pressure from the 'trapped' volunteer.

Brandon Kuhl was one of the Dieterich firefighters volunteers to experience a grain bin entrapment.

However, using Neenan's simular the grain was not very deep. Kuhl said that the pressure of the corn against his lower body kept him from being able to free himself from the grain bin.

In a real situation of grain bin entrapment, the individual could have the grain reach their neck.

Ross Martin, Dieterich Fire Chief, stated that Captain Joe Purcell initiated the paperwork for the rescue tube grant and then others contributed to the nomination.

Since Nationwide's Grain Bin Safety program began in 2014, the contest has received more than 1,000 nominations and has awarded rescue tubes and training to more than 32 fire departments in 15 states, according to their web page.

Neenan commented during the training that the fire department will still need more equipment for a complete grain bin rescue, such as the lock-out/tag-out equipment, ropes, harnesses and further training.

The Dieterich Fire Protection District holds fundraisers throughout the year to raise funds for the station's equipment.

The Dieterich Fire Protection District and Neenan thank Probst Seed for the 110 bushels of corn that was used for the training.

Entrapment and Rescue

When the auger is running in the elevator it is pulling the grain downwards. A 10” auger with a 165 pound individual standing in the grain can be 'sucked' downward in 15 seconds. Once the grain is above waste high the individual feels pressure. If the victim is pulled downwards further, and the grain level is above their waste breathing becomes almost impossible.

A trapped individual would need 325 pounds of pressure to remove them if they are buried waste deep.

If rescuers try to pull the entrapped individual out by means of a wench or a crane, the victim can be literally pulled in half.

The key point of rescue of entrapment is to remove the grain from the victim and not the victim from the grain.

If a rescuer walks on the grain while the victim is still entrapped it can cause an avalanche of more grain tightening around the victim. Safety is needed for implementing the Res-Q-Tube also.

With a Res-Q-Tube in place it stops the grain movement and then the grain around the victim can be removed.

Once the grain level was at the victim's knees, rescuers were able to open the Res-Q-Tube slowly and the victim could climb out.

“Grain bin accidents can tragically impact individuals, families and entire communities,” said Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness. “Accident prevention means everyone working together, and Grain Bin Safety Week provides a forum for the agricultural community to help keep people safe.”

Some grain bin safety tips are: 1. Never enter a bin when the grain is waist deep or higher. 2. Use a body harness and lifeline/boatswain's chair. 3. Check bin atmosphere for oxygen content, combustible gases and toxic agents. 4. Provide adequate lighting in the bin area. 5. Be sure the person entering the bin is trained in safe entry procedures. 6. Lock out and tag out all energy sources before entering a bin. 7. Have at least two personnel on standby to assist in an emergency, with one of those people outside the bin in constant communication with the person entering the bin.