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Farm Accidents

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 8 months ago
You and your Paramedic partner are passing through a rural farming community on your way back from and discussing the intrafacility transfer that went quit smoothly. A call comes out for a 56 year old male entrapped in some farm equipment. You quickly look the address up and realize you are only 3 minutes from the call address so you put yourselves into service for that call. There is no other information available at this time and Rescue has an ETA 20 minute response time. It is a late spring morning with a temp of 60 degree and barely a breath of air moving. You arrive at the address to find a nicely maintained dairy farm with not a sole in sight. Your get out of your cab assess your surroundings and hear a tractor running but no one answers to your call. Your make your way to the sound and find a medium sized tractor with a large mower connected to the rear of the tractor. On the ground between the tractor and mower is an unresponsive male on the ground with one arm up on the PTO shaft and the other hand on the ground beside a cell phone. Your first gut reaction is of course too run up and do what your have had drilled in your head for the last 2 years of your Paramedic Class. Airway Breathing Circulation! But wait….Scene Safety!!!
You already have your BSI on so your look around. In the back ground you see a rather large bull next to the barn. Is he behind a fence? To your right and 10ft from the mower your notice wires handing down from the that looked like it should be connected to the silo un-loader. To your left you notice a white tank on a 4 wheels that has a placard Anhydrous Ammonia. Rescue is still 15 ETA. Are your prepared for this?!
Sound unrealistic? With having been raised on a farm, and being on neighboring farms it is a very realistic scenario.
Lets break it down
PTO (power take off) drive shafts:
They typically come off the back of a tractor to run equipment being pulled ie: mower, hay bailer, choppers, rakes, diggers. Now days the do come with a safety shield however it is only good to a point of how well it has been maintained and it still takes a certain amount of friction to overcome rotation. This may put it into perspective:
  • Wrap up 424 feet of shoe lace in one minute at 540 rpm, or 785 feet of shoe lace at 1000 rpm. How long is your shoe lace?
  • Wrap your arm or leg around the PTO shaft nine times in one second at 540 PTO rpm, or nearly 16 times in one second at 1000 PTO rpm. Is your body that flexible?
  • Produce second degree burns on your skin, even if you are lucky enough to have the PTO strip only the cotton clothing from your body. Nylon and other synthetics will cut into skin and muscle tissue rather than rub across it.
  • Grind away skin, muscles, tendons, and break bones starting in less than three-fourths of one second when you are caught by an unshielded PTO shaft.
  • A very strong man can generate about three-fourths of one horsepower. A tractor transmits nearly all of the engine horsepower to the PTO shaft. There is simply no contest; even between a very strong man and a PTO shaft -- the tractor will win.
Hinge Points
It is best to think of them as ‘shear’ points. As in shearing off fingers, hands, arms, what ever happens to be in the way. Be it of the Patient, or yours while trying to remove your patient from the equipment.
As if a crushing injury is not bad enough, it could early turn into a shearing action by trying to release crushing pressure and the equipment moves in an unpredicted direction.
Kinetic Potential
Many times there is dangerous tension or Kinetic Energy waiting for you as you try to release it in order to remove the patient. Do you know and understand ever action of the equipment? Do you understand the balance point of something you want to move? Remember Newton’s Law: For every action there an equal and opposite reaction.
Do you really know which way to move a lever to get the desired direction of the equipment?
Grain Bins
These are the metal cylindrical bins that we see on many farms and processing centers that hold 1000s of bushels of grain. They appear to be very non threatening as we drive or walk past them but they can quickly turn into a burial site. The grain is emptied from the bottom with an auger pulling from the center of the bin to keep and even distribution in side. However the top of the grain inside can form a thick crust. If personal need to do maintenance inside they can unknowingly be standing on the ‘crust’ with a large void underfoot. They break through the crust and the grain comes down on top of them. Now you basically have a cave in, in a confined space.
On the farm this is not always going to be as easy as looking up a placard number in the Emergency Response Guidebook. Some of the chemicals on the farm have a slow onset and there are others like the very popular Anhydrous Ammonia in which colorless fumes will have you down and gasping before you know what happened. It is commonly used for fertilizing corn fields when the corn is 10’ high. Most recently it is being stolen from the farmers portable tanks to be used in processing Meth. This means they someone has been tampering with the shut off and safety valves, and my not always be left in a safe position. 
Easily summed up. Unpredictable and Dangerous! You are not down at the county fair.
Ok….back to the call.
 Did he get tangled in the PTO shaft because of carelessness? Medical problem? Downed electric wire in contact with the equipment? Distracted from a loose bull getting to close? Or is it the ammonia vapors leaking from the tank that had been tampered with?


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