BY RACHAEL GRAY
Even though Grant Geyer hasn't had to pull anyone out of grain in the six months he has been working at Garden City Co-op, it's not uncommon for those rescues to take place.
Tuesday afternoon at Garden City Co-op, Geyer and other area co-op workers and firefighters took part in classes and grain rescue simulations. The equipment was on hand from the University of Kansas' grain engulfment mobile simulator.
Co-op workers came from Garden City Co-op, Scott Co-op, United Prairie Ag, Kirk Grain from Garden City, and firefighters came from Garden City, Dighton and Scott City.
The simulator is a part of the Kansas Fire and Training Institute.
Kirby Bradley, Garden City Co-op safety director, said the simulation is for when people are trapped in grain. He said the co-op has had similar training sessions.
"They've been similar, but nothing this in-depth," he said.
Area co-op and fire crews took classes in the morning and then had engulfment rescue practices in the afternoon.
The simulation included rescuing a person who is covered in grain from the waist-down, Bradley said.
"At that point, a person cannot move. They're trapped," he said.
The crews then used coffer dams to drive into the grain so it can be removed with a vacuum or shovels. The person then can either pull himself out, or crews can pull him out, Bradley said.
He said the simulation is good practice for firefighters and co-op personnel.
"It could save lives," he said.
Bradley said grain engulfment has been a huge issue in Kansas, particularly the last five years.
"We did lose a person to grain engulfment in 2009 at the Amy Elevator," he said.
In November 2009, Dwayne Seifried, 58, died as the result of injuries sustained in a grain handling accident at Amy Elevator, which is a satellite of Garden City Co-op.
Bradley said the training also is beneficial for firefighters because they often don't have that kind of training.
Geyer said he was thankful the fire departments were taking part in the simulation.
"It could be really helpful. I'm glad to see the fire department out here. They're the ones who are going to be saving us," he said.
Geyer said he appreciated the training.
"It was very helpful. It's good practice in case something does happen," he said.
According to the National Safety Council, deaths and injuries from grain entrapments are on the rise.
In 2010, 51 grain entrapments were documented in the U.S., the highest number ever reported, according to Purdue University's Agricultural Safety and Health Program.
In recent years, the number of deaths and injuries from these grain entrapments also has increased — 26 fatal and 25 nonfatal entrapments occurred last year. In 2006, there were only 12 each.
Purdue researchers say that number may not paint an accurate picture of the actual deaths and injuries in grain entrapments because a nationwide comprehensive reporting system does not exist, as reported on the NSC site.