Connecting Firefighters & Rural Communities

Firefighters and EMS are often trained to handle a wide range of emergencies. These can include high frequency, low risk incidents such as roadside accidents and carbon monoxide alarms. However, farming emergencies pose a unique set of challenges due to their low frequency and high risk nature. These can be unpredictable and risky for both the victim and emergency responders. To better prepare for these situations, firefighters require training and resources that are specific to the farming environment.

One program that prepares firefighters for agricultural emergencies is the Agriculture Rescue Training. The training is being held October 20-21 in Marshfield.

“This training covers the most common types of farm-related incidents such as tractor rollovers, grain bin rescues, and large animal rescues,” explains Kyle Koshalek, project manager at the National Farm Medicine Center.

Through this program, emergency responders gain knowledge of hazards, animal handling and response, farm equipment operation, chemical hazards, confined space rescues, emergency medical response, patient stabilization, interagency collaboration, and mutual aid. By developing these skills, firefighters can better respond to incidents in rural and farm settings.

Koshalek adds “In addition to the Agriculture Rescue Training, firefighters can also benefit from the new and improved Farm Mapping Tool. This tool provides emergency responders with pre-planning information, such as the location of power and gas shut-off. It also provides the location of hazards and farm equipment, to ensure they are able to handle any emergency.”

By using this tool, firefighters can calculate flow rates, square footage, and plan rescue strategies to lessen the damage and risk to those involved.

Annual training is crucial for firefighters to maintain their skills, establish uniformity in procedures, and adapt to new equipment and technology. The Agriculture Rescue Training offers presentations on farm-related pediatric trauma situations and large animal rescues. There is also a separate Train the Trainer course for those interested in leading their own agricultural rescue training.

“This year we will have animal dummies that are the size and weight of a real animal,” says Koshalek. “We will put the dummy in water and let the fire fighters get the animal out.  This simulates how animals can get out and fall into manure pits. Farmers think they can get them out themselves by tying a rope on them and pulling with a tractor.  However, what usually ends up happening is the farmer or another worker also falls in and it becomes a whole other type of rescue.”

Farmers can also work with firefighters and EMS to provide crucial information that can help them to better handle emergencies. The Agriculture Rescue Training is open to anyone, including those outside of Wisconsin, and can be attended in-person or virtually. To register for the training, visit their website.