The South Jacksonville Fire Department (IL) recently acquired a grain rescue tube as part of preparations to meet the extra safety needs of the soon-to-open Bartlett Grain Co. terminal.
Bartlett Grain Co. donated the equipment, which cost upwards of $6,000, to the South Jacksonville Fire Department
But the equipment, which forms a lifesaving wall around a person trapped in a grain elevator, was first put to the test last month following an emergency call to a rural Woodson farm field.
“We hadn’t had any official training with the tube yet. We weren’t even familiar with how to put the thing together,” Fire Chief Dave Hickox said. “We kind of got a quick lesson from some Bartlett employees who went with us.
“They talked us through it.”
Farmer Gary Ginder was extracted from his leased grain bin May 1 without any injuries after spending two hours chest high in corn.
Grain rescue tubes are still a relative luxury among fire departments and rescue crews — especially rural departments operating on volunteer manpower and community fundraisers.
“They’re getting more and more prevalent,” said Jeff Decker, who designed a grain rescue tube sold by Assumption grain bin manufacturer GSI. Decker also is a former instructor with the Illinois Fire Service Institute, which trains firefighters on safety equipment.
“Two to three years ago, almost no fire departments had one or knew how to use one,” Decker said. “We’re seeing a lot more fire departments or elevators having them now. But the market’s definitely not saturated. Not even close.”
How it works
A grain rescue tube is basically a series of interlocking panels that can be assembled around a trapped person. Once in place, the barrier’s job is twofold: removing the crushing pressure the grain exerts on the person while also preventing additional grain dislodged during the rescue from further burying him or her.
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