Jeff Roehm, Dave Bushelman, Heather Utter from Highland County Farm Bureau, and Chris Rogers and Brett Rogers from Brown County Farm Bureau, which is starting fundraising for its own rescue equipment.

At the Ready

Farming can be dangerous, and farmers are looking for ways to be proactive about safety for themselves and their families. Working through Highland County Farm Bureau, members Dave Bushelman, Jeff Roehm, Nathan Brown and other member volunteers raised more than $40,000 to purchase grain bin rescue equipment to be shared among the local fire departments of Highland County. The equipment also can be used for accidents at nonfarm locations such as bakeries, steel plants and concrete companies.

Bushelman explained that even though farmers shouldn’t get inside grain bins if they are working alone, they sometimes do, usually to keep the grain moving if it is being emptied from the bin. If there is a crust over the grain, they can sink or even fall and it’s impossible to get out. Bushelman said the grain is like quicksand: the more someone tries to pull himself up or move, the more the grain shifts against the person who is trapped.

“Grain bin accidents are on the rise while farm accidents are on a decline here in the last several years,” said Bushelman, who also is a county firefighter. “In 2010 there were 50 reported grain bin accidents in the country and about half were fatalities.”
Nathan Brown came up with the idea to purchase rescue equipment and presented it to the county Farm Bureau. “I saw demonstrations with rescue tubes at the Farm Science Review and a light bulb went off in my head that we should find out what we have for these situations down home,” he said.

After looking into local resources and talking with the county Farm Bureau board, Brown and Bushelman decided to organize a fundraising campaign. Farm Bureau members asked friends and neighbors, plus local businesses including Nationwide Insurance to donate. Members also made presentations to local civic groups. Highland County Organization Director Heather Utter coordinated the donations through the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, allowing them to be tax deductible.

Highland County Farm Bureau partnered with the Highland County Fire Chiefs’ Association and emergency response personnel on the project. The Fire Chiefs’ Association took care of purchasing the equipment.

Training on the use of the equipment began this spring and training sessions are being held monthly.

This project earned Highland County Farm Bureau the Emergency Service Hero Award, which annually recognizes everyday heroes who reach out to help people in need, make a difference in the community or save a life. The county also received the American Farm Bureau Federation’s County Activities of Excellence Award.

Based on the success of the program, neighboring Brown County Farm Bureau is now raising funds to purchase grain bin rescue equipment for its county with the goal of two units. County President Chris Rogers, said so far, $8,500 has been raised plus they have received a grant for $5,000.

“We want this to be a multicounty effort,” Bushelman said. “This is a program, not a project. This can keep growing and evolving. Many younger guys (in the department) don’t have farm backgrounds so they need more training.”

“Farm Bureau is working on behalf of members, but this effort will help more than just Farm Bureau members,” Utter said. “Farm Bureau is working to engage the community and with this program that is exactly what the members of Highland County Farm Bureau did.” 

If you would like to contribute to these county projects, contact the Highland or Brown County Farm Bureau office at 888-378-2212.