First responders train for farm emergencies

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SPARTA, Wis. (WXOW) – Western Wisconsin paramedics and firefighters practiced responding to farm-related emergencies on Saturday.

Gundersen Air flight paramedic Lance Luther said Gundersen dealt with four agriculture emergencies related to grain bins in 2019. He gathered co-workers and firefighters together for a scenario-based training session at Lone Bluff Farm in rural Sparta so they’re prepared for any future emergencies.

The team practiced building a wall around a dummy that was stuck in the middle of a grain bin and then extracted it from suffocating in corn.

“Farming is a very dynamic environment, so there are a lot of moving parts involved,” Luther said. “If we can actually put a person in a bin and get them entrapped, then the fire department can use their equipment and we get more comfortable in a situation like that. It really builds a strong team atmosphere.”

Darlene Merow owns Lone Bluff Farm with her husband Mark and also works as a first responder. Luther asked her to host the training session.

“It’s nice to know that the people in our community that work in emergency medical services, first responders, ambulance and firefighters are able to train together,” Merow said.

She had one piece of advice for farmers who might partake in risky behavior while working, “Think twice about what you’re doing and be safe.”

Lance said the main way farmers can stay safe ahead of grain season is to do the following: Only crawl into a grain bin if you have someone with you, always have proper ventilation flowing throughout grain bins and always make sure the power is off.

Grain season starts in mid-October.

Marcus Aarsvold

Marcus Aarsvold

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