Out of tragedy has come a new training tool to help prevent grain accidents on Canadian farms.
The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association is heading a project to build $100,000 grain safety and rescue demonstration trailers. The first of the trailers is nearing completion.
Red Deer County is the first — and so far only — municipality to directly invest in the project. Last year, the county approved $30,000 over three years for the initiative.
The investment was partly in response to a tragedy close to home. In 2015, three sisters from Withrow were among seven people who died in grain accidents across Canada that year.
Ric Henderson, county community and protective services director, said they hope to bring the trailer to the county soon to train volunteer firefighters and other first responders.
“It’s also to show the farming community this is what happens when you get in that grain bin and the auger is going.”
The trailer is set up to allow it to be filled and emptied of grain. To practise rescues, someone is lowered into the grain, into which they quickly sink and soon can’t move.
Rescuing involves surrounding the victim with metal panels, like a cofferdam, and then using a smaller auger to remove the grain.
“I’m very proud that we could be a leader in this area,” said Red Deer County Mayor and experienced farmer Jim Wood.
He has seen how grain can stick to the insides of a bin or trailer. When someone tries to dislodge the grain, it can avalanche down on them. Other common dangers are stepping onto a hollow in the grain or being drawn down into the grain by the auger action.
Tests have shown it takes 300 pounds of force to remove someone buried waist deep in grain.
“I think it’s really important that we do this,” said Coun. Christine Moore. “As a council, this is a great investment in our future agriculture.”
The county hopes to see the trailer at the annual Agri-TradeEquipment Expo, which runs each fall at Westerner Park. It could also be brought in for other county events.