By Lynell Morgan
A team of approximately nine Central Valley Ag (CVA) workers gathered east of Elgin on an early, foggy morning in the middle of July with a mission.
The CVA Emergency Response Team’s mission was to gain valuable practice on grain bin extractions, a skill that they hopefully won’t have to use often during their time on the team.
On that morning, they met at the Meis Farms grain bins located just east of Elgin.
According to Steve Wangler, CVA safety director, these practice drills serve a very important roll in the team’s readiness to respond when needed.
“The most important thing is to make sure that these guys are well versed in their trade,” Wangler told The Elgin Review. “It’s an investment that Central Valley Ag has made (creating the teams) and we want to make sure that this resource is on-point so that when we have assist our volunteer fire departments in our smaller communities, we’re capable of doing that.”
“Doing these types of exercises in these smaller communities kind of opens the eyes to all lot of growers, a lot of passersby – it sparks interest. It gives us an opportunity to reach out to them and give them a good idea of how to safely go inside of a bin.”
Wangler said that Nebraska has fortunately only had approximately four incidents in recent years. In September of 2016, members of this team responded to and assisted in the rescue of a Neligh man trapped in a grain bin. Wangler emphasized that “the best combatant to those recoveries is to educate the grower.” He listed three things that a producer should know before they go in a bin:
“Ensure that their discharge equipment is turned off,” Wangler listed. “Make sure if they can to have an observer at the hole so that when they do go into their bin and something goes wrong they’ve got someone to provide assistance or to call 911 and then, last but not least, really concentrate on having good grain quality.”
CVA’s Emergency Response Teams are made up of CVA employees who are also members of their local fire departments. This allows their trained employees to bring this specialized skill back to the smaller fire departments. In their Region 1 (which includes Elgin), this training session was the third one staged. The team has done training with Neligh and Plainview previously.
According to Wangler, the teams have done training in approximately 18 communities in their ever-growing coverage area.
On this particular morning, the extrication of the 190-pound mannequin “Harvey” took a bit longer than they would like to see due to the way the “body” sprawled out under the grain, making it hard for the rescue team to insert a cone-shaped barrier which helps separate the body from the grain. Rescuers enter the grain bin and rig the victim with harnesses to extricate them from the bin. The body is then removed through the hole and carefully lowered to the ground where it can be attended to.
Local members of the CVA Emergency Response Team are Justin Henn and Greg Henn.