Agtegra Technical Rescue Team completes training on Redfield grain elevator
By Shiloh Appel
On Wednesday, May 25th, members of Agtegra’s Technical Rescue Team (TRT) completed a rescue training/ practice atop the grain elevator in Redfield. According to TRT trainer who has been on the team for 12 years, Cody Bonn, Agtegra employs approximately 30 high angle technical rescuers. They train a minimum of once a quarter at all of their locations.
“We just kind of bounce around. We have five of these fully stocked rescue trailers spread out across our trade territories and we have mutual aid agreements with, I believe, four counties right now. We are working with another three or four. So if a grain bin engulfment happens, or something that requires high angle rescue, the emergency managers of that county can contact us, and we are just an additional resource for that. We’ve been on six or seven actual, real -life grain bin engulfment rescues,” said Bonn.
On of the Technical Rescue Team’s most recent rescues was in Vienna, South Dakota in March of this year. The rescue workers worked for approximately three hours to free a 26-year-old man trapped in the Vienna Elevator and buried up to his chest in corn. The rescue crews placed a tube around the man and used an auger to remove the corn. The man recovered well.
“Everyone on our team is either level one or level two certified. Level two is a more advanced class. There are two of us that have our instructor certifications, so we can certify people to train or to rope, but we usually have an outside contractor come in and train our teams in level one and two. Us trainers then just oversee it,” said Bonn. “We do the training for the instructor certification yearly. Every year it is a week-long course and then everyone else is four times a year just to keep their competency. Once they go through the certification class they are done. They just have to demonstrate skills once per year.”
The TRT team covers all of Agtegra’s trade territory, which includes all of East River South Dakota and some parts of West River and North Dakota.
“We see grain engulfment most often for rescues,” said Bonn.
As for the scenario that the team was training for on May 25th (someone on top of the grain elevator, tied off with a harness, greasing the conveyor, fell off the side and was dangling from their fall protection), Bonn said it has not yet taken place in real life.
“We have never actually had to rescue anybody that way, but it is a scenario that absolutely could happen. Especially…you think of it. It is all ladders and catwalk up there. If someone was on the top of that leg and they had a heart attack. How would you get them down? They can’t climb down. They are unconscious. They had a heart attack clear up there. The only way to get them down is with ropes. Or call a crane in. But we can be here much faster and set up. To get somebody down would take us less than an hour. A crane would take an hour to mobilize and then come here and set up,” said Bonn.
During the training in Redfield, TRT members also practiced in 15-foot underground pits.The scenario was that someone was unconscious in the bottom of the pit.
“The only way to get them out is with a rope and packaging them,” said Bonn. “We have a sked. It is a big chunk of plastic with holes in it and then there is just a normal backboard. And we strap them to that backboard and then we tie them inside this piece of plastic (the sked) and it cocoons them into the backboard and then we can attach our ropes to it. You can do it with three people or you can do it with ten people. Our more advanced teams you could probably do it with two people if you knew what you were doing.”
On May 25th, there were seven people on the crew in addition to two instructors.
Those who took part in the training included Joshua Mills, Justin Kluesner, Jameson Bartscher, Tracy H., Seth Scott, Ian Rose, Miles Neuharth, Chris Harford and Danial Christianson. The other instructor present was Quenton Lau.