Stephenson County firefighters receive hands on grain bin rescue training

Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 9:29 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Reports say grain bin deaths are on the rise in Illinois and many firefighters don’t receive agricultural training that’s crucial to making these rescues.

No matter what the emergency is, firefighters need to know how to save someone’s life. Rural areas are no exception to that, and farmers say it’s crucial for rescue teams to understand how to get a person entrapped in a grain bin out.

“In the fire service, we practice and train all the time for car extrication and structural fires, but we never really think about agricultural rescue, and so this is an opportunity for them to sharpen their skills,” said Stateline Farm Rescue coordinator Mark Baker.

Five Stephenson County fire departments get the chance to sharpen their skills in a hands-on grain bin rescue training class in Cedarville Saturday. Firefighters take turns rescuing one another, pretending to be a person entrapped and cutting grain bin sheets.

“Now I have an idea and a feeling of what the person buried in the corn is actually feeling and what that person is going through, so it makes you more alert and more aware and more of an urgency of what you’re doing because you know how that victim actually feels because you were already in that same position,” Cedarville Firefighter Kurt Warner said.

Warner says it’s incredibly beneficial for everyone on their team to build this knowledge since his Cedarville department is one that includes volunteers.

“It’s a volunteer basis so we never know who we’re going to have or if we’re going to have people, so it’s important we all get trained in every way we possibly can,” Warner said.

Warner says to rescue someone trapped in a grain bin, you place milk crates in the grain bin to walk on which helps stop the compaction of the person’s body and then you pull them out below the waist.