It can take as little as three seconds for a person to be completely buried by fast-flowing grain — a preventable cause of death on Canadian farms.
“With people being in a hurry, larger grain bin sizes and larger grain augers, we’re seeing more engulfment or entrapment with grain,” Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) executive director Marcel Hacault said.
CASA said entrapment related deaths are on the rise.
Four adults and three children died in 2015 with two additional near misses.
The difficult year spurred new safety programs for farming families and training for first responders earlier this year. The training is focused in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but is slowly making its way across the prairies.
“I don’t know who would respond if we didn’t have this type of training here,” Lumsden and District fire chief Jeff Carey said.
Twenty-one volunteer firefighters in Lumsden completed the training over the weekend.
They learned to build a coffer dam around a trapped person and use a mini auger to gradually siphon away the crushing grain. It’s a process that can take hours.
“As soon as you’re in the grain over your kneecaps, you start to have a hard time getting out,” Hacault added. “If you’re in grain up to your hips, you can’t get out and you can’t be pulled out, either.”
In the case of an accident, Carey said it’s important to shut off unloading equipment and call 911, and if possible, turn on aeration to help the person breathe.
“If a person is being trapped and is going to be sucked right under, one thing they can do to give themselves a better chance is take your hands and cover your face to help give yourself a little bit of oxygen,” Carey noted.
With more companies now making preventative safety devices, CASA says things are looking up.
As for Lumsdem Fire, they’re glad they have the training, but hope they’ll never have to use it.