Rural firefighters get hands-on grain silo rescue training

MCCUNE, Kan. – Firefighters in Southeast Kansas got a unique opportunity to take part in some hands-on rescue training.

Volunteer firefighters pump grain out of a silo to rescue a person trapped inside. Thankfully, in this situation, it’s all simulated. It’s part of special training from the University of Kansas for five rural Southeast Kansas firefighters.

“We show them the basics on how to get started,” said retired firefighter and instructor Bill Doane. “They’ve already got some of their own equipment, so we’re showing them the proper way to use it and all the techniques they need to know to be able to effectively rescue somebody.”

The training took place at the Osage Township Fire Department in McCune, Kansas. Treasurer Cherie Schenker says thanks to a donation from the local co-op and others, Osage township has it’s own grain rescue equipment.

“When you’re involved in an entrapment situation, minutes count, seconds count,” said Schenker. “If you’re having to go to another department that’s miles away and get equipment or track someone down that might already own equipment, you could potentially be looking at a recovery rather than a rescue.”

Instructor Bill Doane is a retired firefighter who spent 45 years saving lives. He says in his experience the majority of calls, are from farmers.

“Most of the calls if it’s a grain rescue, it is at the local farmers,” said Doane. “It’s not at the co-op, because they’re the ones that store grain on their own property. And sometimes they forget about what they’re supposed to do or not to do, and so they put themselves in harm’s way.”

Schenker says it’s only a matter of time before they’ll need to use the techniques.

“When you are in rural Kansas and you’re in a heavy agriculture area like we are, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ a rescue is going to be needed at some point, it’s a ‘when.’ And we need to know the techniques so we can appropriately respond,” said Schenker.

Schenker says she hopes to bring additional training to the departments in the area for other situations throughout the year.