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CASA expands grain rescue training to Manitoba

The BeGrainSafe program began after seven fatal grain entrapments on the Prairies in 2015

A program to train firefighters to rescue people trapped or engulfed in grain is expanding into Manitoba.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association is expanding its BeGrainSafe program, which includes a two-day program for firefighters, according to a May 29 news release. The training will now be available in Manitoba and Quebec.

The course includes an in-class portion and a practical component, including simulated rescues of actual firefighter “victims.”

CASA said the campaign was developed after seven fatal grain-entrapment incidents on the Prairies in 2015.

“We were noticing more incidents happening with the volume of grain flows increasing due to advances in technology and production,” said Liz Ellis Clark, CASA development specialist.

CASA’s key initiative is to build awareness about storage hazards and proper grain handling, the release said.

In 2017, CASA developed a mobile trailer and demonstration unit, which travelled to several farm shows in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It aimed to raise awareness about the dangers of flowing grain and grain entrapment, using pop-up banners, interactive physical displays and digital games.

The mobile unit also features a flowing grain demonstration to simulate the rescue of a mannequin or actual person in a controlled manner using a GSI Res-Q-Tube. This device is a 60-inch tall, 27-pound shield constructed to fit around the victim with three additional 30-inch-diameter shields to stop the flow of the grain toward the person. It is constructed of lightweight aluminum to be easy for rescuers to transport and manoeuvre.

According to CASA, the BeGrainSafe program has reached approximately 307,000 members of the public since June 2018 and has trained more than 400 firefighters from 15 departments from Alberta to Ontario.

Nearly a dozen Res-Q-Tubes and augers were donated by sponsors to fire departments during the year.

“We’re very appreciative for the collaboration and assistance we received from towns, fire departments and provincial agricultural health and safety specialists in spreading grain safety awareness to rural communities,” Clark said.

CASA also is continuing its training this year to help farmers set up an emergency response plan on their operations to include farm safety systems, grain-handling hazard assessment and hazard management. The one-day course is geared to those who have large on-site grain storage and can be offered with or without the mobile trailer.

“Knowing the hazards and controlling them represent the first line of defence in preventing life-threatening incidents,” Clark said.

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