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Combine harvesting a field of grain.

Improve Emergency Response Training

Based on Indiana data, one out of every nine farm families experiences an agricultural-related injury each year. Approximately 60 percent of these injuries require emergency medical treatment due to burns, lacerations, broken bones, concussions, eye injuries, or exposure to toxic materials. In Indiana this amounts to approximately 3,700 cases each year. Appropriate first response skills and knowledge on the part of the first responder, whether it be the farm wife, rural law enforcement personnel, member of a volunteer fire department, or emergency medical unit, is critically important to ensure the safety of the responder and minimize the extent of injury to the victim. There continues to be, however, a lack of adequately trained emergency medical services in rural areas and few farm family members have been trained in even the basics of first aid. Furthermore, less than 15% of Indiana's rural emergency medical and resource personnel have experience with farm-related operations and the possible hazards of a serious farm accident. This places both the victim and rescuer at risk of injury.

During the past three decades, Purdue's Agricultural Safety and Health Program has provided formalized training to over 18,000 emergency medical and rescue personnel. Purdue, through an earlier contract with the Indiana Emergency Medical Services Commission, provided training for instructors to conduct agricultural emergency training at the local level. This resulted in over 50 instructors located across the state equipped to provide local training. In addition, efforts have been made to promote extensive first aid training to farm families and to assist them in being better prepared to respond to serious injuries. It is estimated that this group of instructors has provided training to over 8,000 additional individuals since the program began.

For the past several years, the program has hosted annual intensive agricultural emergency response workshops for instructors and other emergency response personnel. Topics have ranged from machinery extrication and high rise agricultural rescue to responding to anhydrous ammonia leaks, conducting grain bin rescues, and the hazards associated with illegal methamphetamine labs. For example, in 2010 over 500 first responders representing over 150 fire/rescue units received 8 hours of training on grain bin rescue strategies. The "train-the-trainer" approach has greatly multiplied the potential impact of the Purdue program efforts across the state.

The program has played an important role in the development of educational materials that have targeted rural emergency first responders. This has included the Responding to Agricultural Emergencies (NRAES 1999) which has sold over 135,000 copies and Don’t Go With the Flow (NFGA 1998).

In 2006, with support from Purdue's Institute for Homeland Security and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, two graduate level courses were developed for professionals seeking careers in fields related to homeland security. The development team was interdisciplinary, involving faculty from Agricultural Engineering, Nursing, Computer Science, Management, and Leadership Development. To date, over 80 students have enrolled in one or both classes.

Last updated: 07-Dec-2011 3:17 PM