Ontario Rope Rescue Team awarded grain bin to help save lives

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ONTARIO COUNTY, NY (WROC) — Rural firefighters are often the first and only line of defense when someone gets hurt on a farm. Now the Ontario County Rope Rescue Team has new equipment and training that will help save lives when they fall into a grain bin. 

Five seconds is all it takes to become trapped in a grain bin and 30 seconds to become fully engulfed. Experts say once the grain is above the knee there’s almost no chance of escape without assistance.

“Unfortunately we’ve got between 10 and 20 farmers per year that lose their lives in a grain bin,” said Don Neenan, Director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. 

According to Neenan, rural fire departments often lack the proper equipment and training to perform a bin rescue.

“There are dangers involved that if you’re not familiar with what you’re doing you can really hurt yourself,” said Bill Colburn, Team Member of The Ontario County Rope Rescue. 

The team was awarded a bin rescue tube. It will go over someone trapped, and it will create separation between the person and the grain. By doing so, firefighters have a greater chance of performing a successful grain rescue and lower the chances of suffocation versus any other way.

“Now here with the tube when we build it around them, even if the victim gets fatigued and needs to take a break, no grain is going to be able to leak back in because its a solid tube built around them,” said Neenan. 

“Not only will the device benefit the entire county, but it’s going to be a great asset to have. More importantly the training. it’s important for us to be able to do this and be able to do it safely,” said Colburn. 

The Ontario County Rope Rescue Team was just one of 34 fire departments across 17 states that were awarded this equipment and training.

Each year nationwide partners with organizations and members to award tubes and training to fire departments that need it the most.

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