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Iowa towns get equipped to respond to grain bin emergencies

Agriculture is king in Iowa. Grain storage facilities are staples in every small community. Grain bins are equally prevalent on nearly every farm. With those containers come great risks of workplace injury. This is an issue to be aware of at all times of the year, but perhaps more so now as the growing season kicks off.

According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the grain handling industry is considered to be high hazard. That means that workers in the industry face greater on-the-job dangers than most others. 

This is a reality Iowa attorneys practicing in the area of workers' compensation law know well. The hazards can include fires and explosions, falls from extreme heights, injuries or loss of limbs from power equipment. There's also a threat of suffocation if a person falls into a bin and gets swallowed up by the contents.

Firefighters in farm communities are well aware of the dangers, too. So are insurers, which is why Farm Credit Services of America has made it a point to get a new grain bin rescue system out into the field. Crews from Mediapolis, Danville and Yarmouth got training in the system's use earlier this week.

The equipment consists of a set of panels that connect together to create a tube around a person buried in a grain bin. The panels not only allow rescuers to reach the victim, but make it possible for the person to climb out if that's possible. The maker of the device says the equipment has been instrumental in saving the lives of three people since it hit the market.

The communities of Burlington and Mount Pleasant have the kits in their arsenals already and a spokesperson for Farm Credit Services of America says the company decided to donate one to Mediapolis to facilitate rescues when needed throughout the southeastern part of Iowa.

Source:, "Mediapolis Fire Department receives life-saving equipment," Sarah Tomkinson, The Hawk Eye, May 6, 2014

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