Corn checkoff donates life-saving equipment and training to rural first responders - Indiana Corn and Soy

Corn checkoff donates life-saving equipment and training to rural first responders

The Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC) partnered with insurance provider Nationwide through its Grain Bin Safety campaign to donate grain bin rescue tubes and training to five rural volunteer fire departments in September.

The first responders receiving the equipment and training include the Hamlet-Davis Fire Territory of Hamlet, Ind.; the Ashley Fire Department of DeKalb and Steuben counties; the Westport Community Volunteer Fire Department of Decatur County, Ind.; the Huntingburg Fire Department of Dubois County, Ind.; and the Ripley Township Volunteer Fire Department of Alamo, Ind.

According to a May 2021 report by Purdue University, 64 U.S. farmers were involved in farm accidents in confined spaces during 2020. That is a 4.5 percent decrease from 2019. Of those accidents, 32 were fatal grain bin entrapments. Three of those accidents involved more than one victim, and three were women. Illinois reported the most accidents with 17 in 2020.

Richard J. Minker, the president and instructor with the Hamlet-Davis Fire Territory, applied for the grant that provided the grain rescue tubes and specialized training.

During training with new equipment, firefighters with the Hamlet-Davis Fire Territory practice building a grain bin rescue tube. The equipment and training was provided, in part, through funding from the Indiana Corn Marketing Council.

“Our county had one years ago, but we didn’t get any training,” Minker said. “We really appreciate the training that has come with this rescue equipment. There’s a need for this in our area. This is a rural area with many farmers. In fact, six or seven volunteers on our department are farmers or work on a farm.”

He said his department had a successful rescue from a concrete grain bin in 2020.

Dan Neenan, a paramedic and director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Peosta, Iowa, led the training along with instructor Brian Freese. Neenan and Freese travel the country training first responders on the proper use of the rescue tubes. He said successful rescues of victims trapped in grain bins are complicated and time consuming.

Instructors with The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety provided training to rural first responders around Indiana that received grain bin rescue equipment.

“The average time of rescue, after the fire department arrives on the scene, is 3 1/2 hours. So, you’re in for a long extraction,” Neenan said. “When the auger is on, a person can be pulled waist deep into the grain within 15 seconds. Most people will be able to pull themselves out if they only go knee-deep; but once it gets up to the mid-thigh area, they’re going to need help.”

Nationwide’s program donated 58 rescue tubes in 2022 and 265 since the program began in 2014. So far, these tubes have been used to successfully rescue five farm workers. Neenan told the Hamlet firefighters that the equipment provided by ICMC and Nationwide was “top of the line and expensive.” “ICMC is happy to partner with Nationwide to donate this life-saving equipment and training to first responders,” ICMC President Paul Hodgen, a farmer from Roachdale, Ind., told the firefighters during the training in Alamo, Ind. “Rural fire departments are often the first to respond to these emergencies, and that is why ICMC and Nationwide is working with these first responders to help them prepare to save lives. Thank you for what you do for our communities and for being here to take this training.”

To learn more or view grain bin safety resources, visit






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