"Every year we have about 35 people that get trapped in grain bins - and more than half of them die… 7 out of 10 happen on the family farm… while no one is watching," said Illinois Fire Safety Institute Trainer Dave Newcomb during a grain entrapment safety presentation Saturday morning at Sherrard High School.
The Farmers & First Responders training event was hosted Sept. 12 by Sherrard FFA, sponsored by the Mercer County Farm Bureau and Rock Island County Farm Bureau- and COUNTRY Financial - to train on the blatant and hidden dangers of working in and around grain bins.
As harvest approaches, awareness and prevention are key to farm safety, according to Dave Newcomb. He had this urgent message for farmers,
"Stop the practice of going alone - take someone with you so if something happens, they can call for help."
FFA reporter and Sherrard junior, Bo Johnson said, "We’d previously bought the grain safety tubes, we donated to fire stations. Today. we learned how to use them - and got to do hands on training."
Sherrard ffa students fundraised $6,000 and donated Res-Q-Tubes to four local fire stations, early this year- previously, just one tube was shared in the approximately 30 mile vicinity. The tubes are used by first responders to rescue those in a grain bin entrapment accident.
Ag teacher and FFA Advisor John Rasty said this is one tool they hope never has to be used,
"We know this is a big agriculture community... we know there’s potential for danger and we want to be as prepared as possible - and have fire departments as prepared as possible to deal with it, if it happens."
The idea came from Ag teacher Bill Hammes - who has had friends of his own die in grain bin accidents. Last year, FFA students voted to do fundraise for the need - following an accident that took the life of a farmer nearby - in the western area of Mercer County.
"The Sherrard FFA would not be what it is today without the support from the people and communities in our school district. We feel that this is one way that we can give back to the community that has supported up so well," said Hammes.
The training comes full circle for one alum - 2020 Sherrard graduate, and former FFA vice president Kyle Osborn - who now serves as a volunteer fireman for the Matherville department.
He previously served as a junior cadet before he turned 18 - and was also apart of fundraising for the tubes last school year. At the training he was able to get hands on training with a mini open grain bin and a dummy lovingly named ‘Randy.’
The training meant extra to Osborn - who may one day use the equipment, "This is important to me because the tubes could be the difference between saving a life and a horrible fate."