Who will respond to an accident?

Gloria Hafemeister
Now Media Group


'Everyone has a responsibility for safety on the farm,' said Jeff Breuer, Ag Research Station safety director. 'First of all, think about prevention but then also know how to deal with an accident quickly and efficiently.'

He pointed to the need, when any accident occurs, to stay calm.

'Recognize what is going on and the risk. Don't make more mistakes, and don't become a victim trying to help someone,' he said. 'Sometimes the best efforts are not always the right efforts.'

First aid training

During a recent safety training session at the West Madison Research Farm in Verona, and again at the Arlington Research Farm, two safety specialists who are also trained ski patrolmen offered advice for responding to injuries before help arrives.

Tom Wright and Tom Schwab shared techniques for stopping bleeding and splinting limb breaks and talked about other first aid measures that can be done by anyone in time of emergency.

'The best emergency preparedness plan is one of prevention.' Schwab said.

He pointed to the importance of farmers and their employees understanding the dangers of particular tasks and pieces of equipment and making safety a priority.

When something does occur, however, it is important to be prepared.

While larger farms likely have at least one certified CPR technician on staff, accidents are not limited to large farms. It can take a long time for help to arrive on many farms.

Understanding the basics of dealing with an emergency is important. Even if a person is not certified, knowing simple life-saving techniques could help. Also, by thinking about these things in advance, the likelihood of panicking will be lessened.

'Its natural human behavior to panic when coming on a serious accident and you can forget everything you ever learned,' Schwab said. 'First call for help; then take a deep breath, and take action.'

Broken limbs

When a victim has a broken limb, first immobilize it so it doesn't move. A folded magazine works well as a temporary splint on an arm. Wrap it to hold it to the arm, and then secure the arm to the body to keep it from moving around until help arrives.

If it is a broken shoulder, lessen the pain and decrease movement by wrapping a blanket into a ball and placing it under the arm. Then secure it with the sling and strap.

Once the splinted or secured limb has been secured to the body, check finger tips to make sure the strapping isn't too tight and cutting off circulation.

If ice is available, use it to keep swelling down until help arrives.

With any painful injury, there is the risk of a victim going into shock. Lay the victim flat, elevate legs and, if possible, get oxygen to the victim and talk to the victim to keep them calm.

'When you reduce the pain, you reduce the chance of shock,' Schwab said.

Stopping bleeding

When a victim is bleeding excessively, use gauze or whatever clean material is around. Ideally, a first aid kit will be handy to use sterile gauze, at least right next to the wound. If bleeding continues, keep layering the material. Do not pull off the soaked piece because the blood has started to clot, and when pulling it off to replace it, clotting needs to begin all over again.

If there is an impaled object, wrap the gauze around the object and do not pull out the object. It could do more harm than good because it may be acting as a plug preventing further bleeding or it could have jagged edges that put additional cuts into the body on the way out.

Only use a tourniquet as a last resort. It will stop the bleeding, but it also cuts off all the blood supply. If it is on too long before help arrives, it could result in loss of that limb because of lack of blood.

'Your method of treatment will be dependent on how far you are from help and how long it takes for the EMTs to arrive,' Schwab said.

In the case of an amputation, control the bleeding and save the parts. Store them in a plastic bag, and if ice is available, keep them cool but don't put the ice directly on the body part.

Dealing with other emergencies

The two also touched on dealing with allergic reactions, heat exhaustion, hypothermia and lightning strikes.

Many people have allergic reactions to bee stings. Many also carry EpiPens. Wright said it is important when carrying one to let others know you have it.

When coming upon a person who has had an allergic reaction to something, remove them from the source. If they have the EpiPen, assist with administering it for 10 seconds in the thigh. A new version is becoming available that has talking instructions included and is about the size of a cell phone.

When an incident like this occurs, call 911 immediately.

Regarding lightning victims, he Schwab said it is a myth that the person is charged and should not be touched. He said 70 percent of lightning victims survive.

In the event of heat exhaustion, check the temperature. If the victim's temp is 104 or below, provide water or an electrolyte drink, and provide shade or fanning. Remove or loosen clothing.

Heat stroke requires immediate action and calling 911.Move to a cooler spot, do not give water if the person has passed out but rather sprinkle water on them or, if possible, immerse in cool water like a creek or pond. Remove victim's clothing and place ice packs, if possible, under the arms, in the groin area and on the neck.

Quick response

Both Wright and Schwab said it is important, when coming upon any accident, to remain calm.

Call for help immediately. Remember the 'golden hour,' which is the importance of getting a victim to a hospital within an hour of the accident occurring.

After calling for help, take steps to control bleeding and provide reassurance to calm the victim. Provide physical comfort such as a blanket to keep victim warm and to prevent shock.

Make sure the scene is safe. On a road, get out of the path of traffic or deter traffic.

Don't become another victim. If it is a vehicle accident, turn off the vehicle and put it in park. In the case of a tractor rollover, don't try to remove it from the victim. It could make matters worse. Wait until help arrives.

Get training

Finally, they suggest that farm families consider taking CPR training. Ideally have at least two people on the farm trained.

To take a class, contact or