Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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Trapped in grain

Local fire fighters, others learn rescue procedures.

The tick of each second meant the tightening of corn—like a vise—around our feet, legs and waist.

On a hot, humid evening Aug. 18 at the All Points Cooperative elevator, a handful of volunteers found themselves entrapped in grain piled high in the back of a semi-trailer.


Fortunately help was a kernel away as Gothenburg Volunteer fire fighters and others who work in grain operations took turns freeing volunteers immobilized by corn.


Terry Klein of Beaver City, a consultant for Compliance Advisory Services, presented the grain entrapment training.

Klein said the training is important since first responders to a grain entrapment—where the body is partially covered—or full engulfment can be injured themselves or killed during the rescue.

“It’s high risk,” he said.

During the rescues, Klein suggested pieces of plywood be used because the material is easily found.

Fire fighters also used pieces of plastic they had specially cut which they shoved into the grain around entrapment victims for stability.

“You build a wall around the victims to isolate them from the grain to get them out with the least amount of trauma,” Klein explained. “It’s important to get the grain away from victims so they can breathe.”

Most of the people who die in engulfment accidents suffocate.

As victims exhale and deflate their lungs, grain fills in and won’t move.

Once stabilized, trainees used a large grain vacuum to suck up the corn around victims.

When entrapment happens, Klein said it’s important to call everyone who has a grain vacuum.

“Because 50% of the vacuums that show up, won’t work,” he explained.

Klein urged group members to volunteer as both the victim and the rescuer.

“You’re better trained to do an extraction once you’ve been a victim,” he said.

Klein pointed out that grains have different test weights and holding abilities on victims.

He noted that 50% of the engulfments that happen in the United States involve corn.

And, if victims are unconscious, they are dead weight and more difficult to get out.

When someone is trapped for a long time, he said the victim needs

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