Firefighters receive hands-on training for grain silo rescues

Sentinel photo by LAUREN KERSHNER
Lewistown Borough Fire Department Safety Officer Bob McCaa teaches a group of City Hook and Ladder firefighters how to put together a tool to rescue someone who is trapped in a grain silo or bin on a farm. The grain rescue tube was purchased through a grant from the Land O’Lakes Foundation.

LEWISTOWN — A local fire company was given the opportunity to learn how to rescue someone trapped in a grain silo.

The City Hook and Ladder Fire Co., based in Lewistown, had members participate in the training at a farm owned by David and Jami Glick.

The Glicks, who are Mifflin County Farm Bureau members, held the training at their farm so firefighters could learn how to use the equipment in a hands-on environment.

Lewistown Borough Safety Officer Bob McCaa handled the training, teaching the firefighters how to use the grain rescue tube and the various dangers that are associated with silo rescues and things the responders need to be on the lookout for.

“I want you to practice putting it together here on the ground, before adding the grain,” he said. “That way you know how it goes together without the added difficulty of the grain right away.”

The innovative grain rescue tube was purchased through a grant at the end of 2016, from the Land O’Lakes Foundation. This grant is available to local dairy farmers who sell their milk to Land O’Lakes.

The grant is part of the Mid-Atlantic Grants program, which was developed to improve the quality of life by supporting worthy projects and charitable endeavors in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Mifflin County is split into two different Land O’Lakes regions, which allowed for two different tubes to be purchased.

Tim Goss, president of Mifflin County Farm Bureau, said the tube is a great addition for the county.

“This is a newer version than the one given to the Reedsville Fire Co.,” Goss explained.

The unit itself works by removing the grain around the person who is stuck. To do this, panels are placed around the person and locked into place.

The panels are interchangeable so that they can better fit either the person themselves or where the person might be. For example, if the person is close to the wall, the panels can be put right up against it and use the wall as another panel to create the seal.

The seal is needed so that the grain can be removed from around the person, while preventing more grain from falling around them. Next, a drill controlled auger is placed into the grain. The auger is then used to remove grain until the person can get out on their own or the responders can pull them out.