Farm emergency drill a real eye-opener

Saukville first responders learn about the hazards of agricultural operations, train to help victims of accidents during exercise on Roden Echo Valley Farm

SAUKVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT members practiced a farm rescue at Roden Echo Valley Farm in Newburg on May 29. About 40 first responders from the fire department and Lifestar Emergency Medical Service participated in the staged emergency. A mannequin that was caught in a power take-off shaft was transported to safety by the rescue crew. Farm owner Bob Roden explained to the participants the numerous hazards that exist on a farm. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

During the summer of 2016, tragedy struck on Roden Echo Valley Farm near Newburg when an employee’s friend was killed in a skid-steer loader accident.

Now the Roden family is offering its farm as a training ground for first responders.

“We’re trying to make sure our 911 services are prepared to handle a trauma emergency in a rural area because a lot of accidents occur on farms,” Melissa Ingram, a critical care paramedic and field educator for Lifestar Emergency Medical Service in West Bend, said. 

“There is so much going on the farms right now because farmers are tending to their crops and cows are calving.”

About 40 members of the Sauvkille Fire Department and Lifestar responded to a mock emergency led by Ingram at the farm on May 29.

“We set it up as an entire rescue scenario, which included placing a 911 call from the farm and the responders locating the scene of the accident and eventually transporting the patient, who was a mannequin,” Ingram said.

Before the training exercise, members of the department toured the farm with owner Bob Roden, who pointed out the hazards on a farm.

“They were surprised because a lot of them are city people and haven’t experienced an operating farm before. They really became aware of all the dangers that can exist on a farm,” Ingram said. “The big takeaway for the fire department was that they learned how heavy some of the equipment is and what they would need to do to lift it. A lot of the equipment they carry on the rescue trucks isn’t going to cut it.”

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 417 farmers died from work-related injuries in 2016. Transportation incidents, which includes tractors overturning, were the leading cause of death. 

Ingram said some of the lessons the fire department learned include how cattle can react in an emergency and how to avoid accidents in parts of the farm that contain chemicals, like manure-separation areas. 

“A lot of them didn’t know the fumes (from the manure) can kill you,” Ingram said. 

The first responders who participated in the exercise were faced with the scenario of a  person caught in a power take-off shaft, which allows implements to draw power from the engine of a tractor or truck.

“A lot of farmers do maintenance on their PTO shafts, and if they wear any loose-fitting clothing they can potentially get caught and tangled,” Ingram said. 

The same type of accident happened to Roden about 35 years ago.

“The Roden family has become a very big safety advocate because they understand the need to have knowledge for handling an emergency on their farm,” Ingram said.

Roden also demonstrated how some of the equipment, such as a combine harvester head, works. 

“A lot of the participants didn’t know how equipment works or how to turn it off. It was really enlightening,” Ingram said.

Ingram said the Roden family plans to host future trainings on its farm,  which will include a HAZMAT scenario and a grain-bin rescue. 

“We will definitely return to the Roden farm because this training was extremely valuable. It’s going to save lives,” Ingram said. 




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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