Farm rescue training for a new generation

Scott Heiberger
National Farm Medicine Center
Tractor rollovers are a common accident that can lead to severe injury or death on the farm. A new rescue training program will teach people, especially those in emergency rescue services, about basic first responder tips.

Emergency responders face unique, high-risk situations on farms, including toxic atmospheres, enclosed spaces, managing animals under stress and machinery entrapments. In order to prepare responders for these challenges the National Farm Medicine Center of Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, in partnership with Pittsville Fire and Life Link 3 Air Medical Transport, are hosting the Agricultural Rescue Training Scene Management program, Oct. 22-23.

The Friday portion will be presented virtually in a live format. On Saturday, the training moves onsite to the Heiman Holsteins dairy farm in Marshfield, Wis.

“The program is designed for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and rescue personnel to supplement basic emergency training,” said Pittsville Fire Chief Jerry Minor. “We’ll use some specific farm-incident situations, while providing ‘take-home-and-use’ information.”

The National Farm Medicine Center initiated farm rescue training for firefighters and other emergency responders in 1981. During the next two decades, more than 1,400 participants from Wisconsin and beyond were trained in rescue techniques specific to agricultural hazards.

In 2021, a new generation is working in the mostly-volunteer fire services of Wisconsin, and fewer of them have farm backgrounds. “There was a clear need to bring back the training program,” Minor said.

The training program’s revival is being made possible thanks to $53,000 pledged during the Fund-a-Need portion of the September 2019 Auction of Champions held at RiverEdge Golf Course, Marshfield.

In addition, fire departments that send three or more personnel to the training will receive a free, four-gas monitor courtesy of the Mike Biadasz Farm Safety and Education Memorial Fund.

“This generous support ensures that farmers and emergency responders get the care, training and support they deserve,” said Farm Medicine Director Casper Bendixsen.

Lecture topics covered will include: (Friday evening online)

  • Prevention of farm accidents 
  • Emergency management of patients experiencing farm trauma
  • Pediatric trauma on the farm
  • Case studies and success stories

Hands-on Workshops will cover: (Saturday at Heiman Holsteins)

  • Farm Familiarization -- “A must for those with little or no exposure to farms”
  • Tractor rollovers – “Still the number one cause of farming fatalities”
  • Equipment extrication 
  • Silo rescue
  • Grain bin rescue

To register go to www.agrescue.org. Registration fee is $75 through Oct. 8, increasing to $100 after that date. The first 100 applicants will be accepted. A total of 9.5 hours of training CEUs will be awarded. Precautions will be taken to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 during the in-person portion of the training event.

For more information about the workshop, contact Chief Minor (pfd911@tds.net) or Kyle Koshalek (koshalek.kyle@marshfieldresearch.org, 715-389-3786).