Soy checkoff donates grain bin rescue equipment to five rural Minnesota communities

One. Two. Three. Four.

In four seconds, adults can sink knee deep in flowing grain and cannot free themselves. In 20 seconds, an adult can become completely engulfed with little hope of survival.

To help bring hope and reassurance to rural communities across Minnesota, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and the soybean checkoff developed a nomination process during the summer months for community members to nominate their local first responders to receive one of five aluminum grain bin rescue tubes and auger.

“Everyone in farming is aware of the dangers that come with our profession and working in and around grain bins is certainly one of those hazards,” said MSR&PC Chair Joe Serbus, who farms near Bird Island. “At the end of the day, we all want to return home safely to our families.”

Over 50 fire departments were nominated, spanning from the Canadian border to southern Minnesota.

“Narrowing down the nominees to five is extremely difficult, especially knowing how critical this equipment can be to any rural community,” Serbus said. “We hope they never have to be used, but it’s reassuring knowing five more communities will be prepared and ready.”

The Ghent Fire Department, located in Lyon County, was one of the five recipients.

Through the nomination form, when asked why the department was deserving of the equipment, the nominee wrote Ghent was utilizing a homemade tube, which lacked in features and potential efficiencies in case of an emergency.

Ghent Fire Chief Cory Crowley says the new equipment will be a great addition to their community.

“We are very excited to receive this grain bin tube and auger,” Crowley said. “These tools are often overlooked in many small-town budgets. This will go a long way to ensure firefighter safety, along with the ability to quickly and safely extract a victim for many years to come.”

In addition to the Ghent Fire Department, Lewisville, Currie, St. Martin and Hallock were also nominated and selected.

To ensure the equipment donated was state-of-the-art and proper training was included, MSR&PC partnered with Nationwide and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), both of whom have been leaders in promoting grain bin safety.  

“We are proud to work with organizations like the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council to ensure first responders have the resources and training needed to respond to grain entrapments,” said Brad Liggett, president of Agribusiness at Nationwide. 

Since the beginning of Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety program in 2014, they have provided 14 rescue tubes and training sessions to Minnesota first responders, with one of those tubes successfully rescuing a Glenville farmer in August 2017.  

This fall, NECAS and Nationwide delivered the equipment to each department and provided hands-on training for first responders, utilizing their mobile trailer.  

“These are awesome tools,” said Brad Kruse, a safety and rescue instructor with NECAS, “but (you must) respect them.” 

The grain tube is made of six panels – called “The Great Wall” – that slide into place around the victim. Once inserted, the tube halts the flow of grain and relieves the pressure on the trapped individual. One cubic foot for grain weighs 50 pounds; without the tube, grain can continue to collapse the victim as rescuers remove it. 

The grain entrapment rescue auger, which accompanied the donated rescue tube, quickly aids in the removal of grain away from the victim. 

“Grain bin entrapments not only impact the individual and their families, but a community as a whole,” Serbus said. “I’m proud the soybean checkoff could do their part in ensuring more rural areas have access to this life saving equipment.”  

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