Thanks to the generosity of the Freehling family, the Baroda Fire Department may be the first in Berrien County to have access to a Grain Rescue Tube in a timely gift at the beginning of National Grain Bin Safety Week.
Sunday marked the start of the observance of Grain Bin Safety Week, with the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, signing a proclamation for the week to be observed annually the third week in February. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the dangers of grain bins, provide education about them, and share the best safety tactics to practice when working with a grain bin.
The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety partners annually with Nationwide Insurance to promote Grain Bin Safety Week; as a time to remind people of the dangers of working in, on or around grain bins. The week also highlights the awareness of safe work practices and prevention of injuries or even death. In 2018, there were 30 documented grain entrapment cases with half resulting in a fatality.
Grain Bin Safety Week also brings attention to the life-saving extraction methods and procedures to help improve responder and victim safety when farmers and other workers become entrapped or engulfed in grain bins. Each year, thousands of farmers are exposed to the life-threatening hazards associated with entering grain bins to remove rotting or clumped grain. In just a few seconds, an adult can sink waist-deep in the quicksand-like suction of flowing grain, rendering the person unable to get free without help. Although these hazards are well known in the industry, they are often underestimated until it’s too late. A recent report indicated a startling uptick in grain bin accidents as farmers rushed to clear last year’s unused grain, with at least 14 people killed in grain bins between August and December of 2019.
The only way to safely remove someone trapped in a grain bin is to remove the grain around the person’s body using a grain rescue tube. Unfortunately, many fire departments and other first responders lack the grain rescue tube and the training to perform a successful grain bin rescue.
Teri, Marissa, and Natalie Freehling have donated a Grain Rescue Tube to the Baroda Fire Department in memory of their husband and father Patrick Freehling. Patrick was a life-long resident, with the exception of the 4 years he served our country in the U.S. Navy. The family’s hope is that this rescue tube will be a tool that may help area emergency responders in their service to the community.
It is believed this is the first Grain Rescue Tube to be available to first responders in Berrien County. The Michigan Technical Rescue Team for Region #5 (MITRT-5) has a Grain Rescue Tube, but it is stored in Coldwater. This resource will be available through Mutual Aid agreements with all Berrien County Fire Departments. The tube will also be an additional resource used by the two active Baroda firefighters on the MI-TRT-5 Team, if a need arises within the southwest Michigan Region.
The Baroda Fire Department tells us they are extremely grateful for the donation from the Freehling family, as the specialized rescue equipment will allow them to be better prepared to help the community.