Late one summer afternoon, a 28-year-old dairy farmer entered a 10-foot-deep manure pit to replace a shear pin on an agitator shaft. While he was climbing out, he was overcome and fell onto the pit floor. The man's 15-year-old nephew saw what had happened, climbed into the pit and also collapsed. One by one, others entered the pit to help -- the boy's father, his cousin, and his grandfather who owned the farm -- and all were overcome.
Finally, the owner of a local farm implement business and two workers rescued victims with a rope: they did not go into the pit. The emergency rescue squad arrived 20 minutes after the tragedy began. All five family members died.
This 1989 incident from another state shows how untrained and inexperienced rescuers became victims. It also shows the need to know what to do in an emergency.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 83 Iowans died and 3,043 were injured in reported farm accidents during 1992. Most likely, a family member or another farm worker was first at the scene for those Iowans. If you work or live on a farm, you also could be a first responder and will need to make life-saving decisions that will not put you or the accident victim in further danger.
First response is critical in farm-related accidents. Such accidents often occur in isolated areas and may involve entrapment by farm machinery or in structures that are difficult to enter. A telephone may not be nearby, and the first responder may be alone. Tremendous stress can cause indecisiveness, delay, and incorrect decisions about appropriate action to take.
Your primary concerns are to: 1) get professional help for the injured person by activating emergency medical services (EMS); 2) make sure the victim and you are not in further danger, and 3) provide care until EMS arrive. The appropriate action isn't always apparent, and the first responder sometimes must make difficult choices.
If you can, however, activate EMS as soon as possible. A general rule is: the sooner an individual receives advanced medical care, the greater chance of survival. You may quickly get help by flagging down a passing motorist, or sending someone else.
When you call emergency personnel, never hang up until the dispatcher or operator tells you to do so. The dispatcher may start the emergency response procedure and come back for more information.
Provide the following information: 1) the location of the accident (use accurate mileage distances and landmarks that are visible at night and in snow); 2) your name and telephone number from which you are calling; 3) nature of the accident; 4) the number of victims and conditions; 5) type of aid that was or can be given; 6) whether someone will meet EMS at a remote location, and 7) any special conditions that might hinder rescue efforts, such as a possible gas spill, fire, or electrical wires
Post detailed directions to your farm at all telephones. Even if you have a "911" system, post numbers for the poison control center and power company. Make sure all family members, especially children, can tell others how to get to your farm.
RETURN TO THE SCENE
Here are general concerns for common types of farm accidents:
WAIT FOR EMS
The best you can do in an emergency is to remain calm and, if the injured person is conscious, provide assurance. The key is being prepared as a first responder so that you can think rationally and make critical choices to improve the injured person's chances for survival.
See answers at the end of "What Can You Do?".
What Can You Do? What you do the first few minutes after a farm accident can mean the difference between life and death. To prepare you and your family for such emergencies, follow these tips:
Answers to quiz:
1-True; 2-a; 3-True; 4-a.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Publication #: Pm-1518l
This Fact Sheet is apart of a series from the Safe Farm Program, Iowa State University Extension, Ames, Iowa. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Publication date: December 1993.
Prepared by Charles Schwab, extension safety specialist, and Laura Miller, extension communications. Design by Valerie King, Iowa State University Extension, Ames, Iowa. Portions adapted from First on the Scene, NRAES-12.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More