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New device in Franklin County aims to prevent tragedy during grain bin emergencies

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FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSIL) -- Thanks to generous donations, Franklin County now has a new device to help farmers during an emergency.

"30 to 40 people a year are trapped in grain bins which doesn't seem like a lot but most of them end up in fatalities if they don't have equipment," said Farmer Kelly Robertson.

Roughly $5,000 was raised through donations to purchase two grain rescue tubes, a device used to save a person stuck a grain bin.

"It's made up of about six different sections of aluminum with can be carried into a grain bin by a rescuer and they interlock. What you do is you push each section down around the person that's trapped and then you slowly begin to remove the corn and free them that way," explained Robertson.

Agriculture is a big part of Southern Illinois, with grain being transported to and from bins nearly year round.

Gary Little, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, says the pressure from the grain is what makes falling in so dangerous.

"If you get into a grain bin, whether it be filled with corn, beans, whatever is being stored there, it works a lot like quicksand. There's void that open up and it draws you down into the grain and as it does, as you exhale that grain builds pressure around your body and then you don't have the ability to inhale again to expand your chest to take air into the lungs and essentially it suffocates you," explained Little.

Little says while they hope the never have to use it, the device is vital to the farming community.

"Really it's something that just a lot of people don't think about but grain tubes or grain bins are one of the more dangerous things on the farm and with the amount of grain bins that we have in the area and the frequency of their use, having equipment like this available, it's immensely important for us."

The rescue tube is stored in Franklin County. First responders say it will be available to other counties during an emergency.

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