(NewsUSA) - Fire Chief Matt Webb was heading to work when he heard the 911 call come in over his pager.
It was 9:53 a.m. on Aug. 8. A local farmer had just fallen into a bin of rotting corn in a small, rural community on the outskirts of the county. By the time Webb arrived on the scene less than 10 minutes later, the farmer was engulfed in corn up to his neck.
But thanks to a grain rescue tube and training provided by Nationwide almost two years earlier, Webb and other first responders were able to rescue the man in 1 hour and 44 minutes.
"It felt like an eternity," Webb says. "But the (grain rescue) training came back quickly, and it was a relief we had our own equipment. The program that's out there for these tubes and training is such a life-saving resource in our county."
Webb's fire department is one of dozens in some of the country's top farming communities that have received lifesaving grain rescue tubes and training as part of Nationwide's annual Nominate Your Fire Department Contest. Another one of those winners -- the Westphalia Fire Department in Kansas -- also used their new skills in 2015 to rescue a man who had become entrapped in a grain bin.
"It only takes seconds to become entrapped in grain and less than a minute to become completely engulfed," said Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness, the No. 1 farm insurer. "Once grain is above knee level, it is nearly impossible to get out without assistance. Until we can convince all farmers and other grain handlers to develop a zero-entry mentality, we will strive to make tubes and rescue training as widely available as possible."
Since 2014, Nationwide's annual safety contest has awarded tubes and training to 48 fire departments across 18 states. Now, these fire departments are well-equipped to help rescue people who may become entrapped in grain during the normal course of their jobs. A record 883 nominations were submitted this year in the fourth annual contest, and Nationwide chose 16 winners in 10 states with large rural farming communities.
The winning fire departments in 2017 are: Dieterich Fire Protection District (Illinois), Marion Center Volunteer Fire Department (Pennsylvania), Alexandria Volunteer Fire Company (Pennsylvania), Elgin-Beaverdam Hose Company (Pennsylvania), Livonia Fire Department (New York), Union Fire Company No. 1 (New Jersey), Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company (Delaware), Florence Township Fire Department (Ohio), Braymer Volunteer Fire Department (Missouri), Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District (Missouri), Jasper Fire Protection District (Missouri), Blanchard Township Gilboa Fire Department (Ohio), Number One Fire Department (Tennessee), New Albin Fire Department (Iowa), Thorp Fire & Ambulance District (Wisconsin), and West Burlington Fire Department (Iowa).
Grain Bin Safety Week 2017 is supported by Nationwide, CHS, West Side Salvage, Specialty Risk Insurance, ABIS, KC Supply Co., The Scoular Company, Arthur J Gallagher & Co., NOHR Wortmann Engineering, Heard Insurance Agency, Ruff & Assoc Inc., Triple M Farms, Sukup, Sump Saver, National Farm Medicine Center and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. For more information about the program, purpose or nomination process, visit www.grainbinsafetyweek.com.