Farm safety demonstrations offer a reminder of the dangers
CLINTON As a farmer, the Clinton School Board president and the Rock County 4-H Fair Board president, Rob McConnell has a lot invested in agriculture.
As McConnell watched a farm safety demonstration Sunday, he also thought about the tragedy that farm accidents bring to victims and their families.
“I lost part of a finger in a farm accident,” McConnell said. “I want to make sure my kids don’t go through that.”
McConnell was on hand for the Clinton High School FFA farm safety demonstration. Predictions of inclement weather kept attendance down. However, local firefighters and EMTs were there to train for farm accident rescues such as a grain bin extraction, auger entrapment, anhydrous ammonia leak and a tractor rollover.
Watching the demonstrations with McConnell was Ken Luety, a member of the Clinton School Board. He wears the leg scars of an auger entrapment.
“My father, Paul, was killed when his skid loader tipped over,” Luety said. “Farm accidents have been a part of our lives, and that’s why farm safety programs such as this one are so important for the next generation of farmers.”
The farm safety event took nearly a year of planning by Clinton FFA students, including the chapter’s president, Jordan DeLong, McConnell’s son Nate and James Walter.
“I plan to major in agriculture management and business law at UW-Madison and eventually work in the family business, The DeLong Co.,” DeLong said. “The company cares about the safety of its employees and customers. That’s why we thought it was a good idea to have this event.”
Helping the FFA members with the training session, in addition to The DeLong Co., were Stateline Farm Rescue and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center’s Lifeline Emergency Helicopter Service in Rockford, Ill. Scot Forge of Clinton provided the site.
“It’s important that our local first responders get this training,” said DeLong, a 17-year-old senior at Clinton High. “They make the difference in most farm accidents.”
Standing by watching the training and demonstrations was Clinton High School agriculture teacher and FAA adviser Sue Gorman. She also volunteered to be one of the grain bin “victims” during a rescue simulation.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the students,” Gorman said. “They are here today learning by participating in these demonstrations. In addition to the knowledge they learn, they will pass that knowledge on to their families, most of whom work in some area of agriculture where safety is so important.”
Pat Mullooly, a DeLong employee who was coordinating the anhydrous ammonia leak simulation, detailed a key aspect of farm safety.
“Yes, this chemical can be dangerous,” Mullooly said. “We tell people not to fear it because it’s essential to apply nitrogen to the soil for corn and other grain crops. Don’t fear it, but respect it.”
That attitude drives farm safety practices. Farmers won’t stop driving tractors for fear of rollovers, and grain will continue to be stored in bins, despite the potential for accidents.
“The key is to recognize these safety issues and work hard to prevent accidents,” said Karen Daub-Larson, a flight nurse with Lifeline Emergency Helicopter Service. “But when an accident occurs, it’s critical that the local responders have this training. Often, there is not enough time available for Stateline Farm Rescue or us to get there.”
“That’s why we’re here today,” she said. “The survival rate increases when those closest to the scene have been trained to respond quickly.”