New Grain Bin Rescue Tool - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

New Grain Bin Rescue Tool

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By Addie Olson

aolson@myabc5.com

@addieolson

A farmer checking on his grain can fall into the bin in a heartbeat, but it can take rescue crews hours to get in the bin and pull him out.

"If they can't protect themselves the corn and the beans get in their mouth and they basically can't breathe," said rescue instructor and firefighter Don Ashenfelter.

Ashenfelter said three grain bin falls occurred in Iowa this year, but only two people made it out alive.

Saturday fire crews simulated rescues. They looked at a new tool that could save more lives.

"They're starting to place these rescue tubes strategically in their areas so within a specific length of time there can be a rescue tube to about anywhere," Ashenfelter said.

Ashenfelter hopes these rescue tubes will be placed throughout the state.

Crews piece the metal together around the victim to isolate them, drain out the grain, and hopefully give the person a better chance at hanging onto life.

Between weather conditions and making their way to the top of a bin, fire crews already face a slew of challenges when attempting rescues.

"That's some issues that we need to worry about when we first get that call," Ashenfelter said. "What is the worst case scenario that we're going to have to deal with?"

The best case scenario for rescuers is not having to be in the situation at all.

Ashenfelter urges that farmers take every precaution possible before climbing into their bin.

The rescue tubes are only effective when the person who fell is partially submerged. When someone is completely buried in the grain, their chances of survival are slim.

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