When Minutes Count To Rescue
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Being trapped, even while surrounded by friendly firefighters can still give you a claustrophobic feeling, and each step can cause extra pain.
On Saturday, Oskaloosa firefighters learned a new way of helping to extract a trapped person from a grain bin. The new equipment, which was supplied by the Mahaska County Farm Bureau, could very well be the difference between life and death for an individual trapped in a substance such as corn or soybeans.
The firefighters in New Sharon took the training on Sunday, and upwards of 35 area firefighters will be trained in how to extricate using the grain bin extraction tube. The tube will be located in Oskaloosa, but is available to all trained departments if the need arises.
Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff spoke about the training that was taking place at the Oskaloosa Fire Department on Saturday. The day started out with class work for the firefighters, and then moved outside to a specially built trailer that helps to simulate a grain bin, so the practice of deploying and utilizing the extraction tube could be practiced. Some of the firefighters had been part of past grain rescue training, but Saturday’s training was a completely new experience.
Each firefighter was given the opportunity to be ‘trapped’ so they would have a better understanding of what a victim may be experiencing. “If you even get submerged down to your knees, you’re probably not going to be able to get out on your own. You’re going to need some sort of assistance,” said Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff. “The more you move, the further down you go.”
“A person can get covered up in under 30 seconds to be completely submerged,” Neff said. “Don’t get complacent just because you’ve done it for 30 years.”
“What happens, basically, is that you suffocate. What happens is, when you exhale, your chest moves and compresses. Every time you exhale, that grain goes in a little tighter around your chest, therefore you can’t take as much air in,” said Neff. “It just keeps getting tighter.” The time frame to get help there is measured in minutes before suffocation happens.
The cost of the training class itself came at no cost to the fire department, with the exception of payroll to have the firefighters there. The approximately $2,000 cost was offset by the fees firefighters pay for their license plates or Volunteer Firefighter Training Fund.