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Rockingham County Fire & Rescue receive Nationwide Insurance grant for grain bin rescues

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — On Monday afternoon, first responders with Rockingham County Fire and Rescue dove feet first into a grain bin to better prepare for the unexpected.

In 2019, the agency applied for a grant with Nationwide Insurance and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) for a grain rescue tube, along with hands-on rescue training.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NECAS was unable to deliver the supplies and training in 2020.

But this week, NECAS was able to finally provide the supplies and training.

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., firefighters climbed into a grain bin simulator, filled with real grain provided by Rockingham Cooperative.

The goal for each team was to rescue the sunken firefighter using six panels, provided by NECAS.

“We’ll go in and we’ll have two other firefighters build the tube around them, sink it down and then evacuate the grain,” Dan Neenan with NECAS said. “Most people will become entrapped in grain when the grain gets just above their knees. Most people will be able to get out of the grain when the grain gets just below their knees.”

Firefighters climbed into the simulator, positioned on the back of a tow bed, until all had a chance to perform a rescue.

“Having the rescue tubes and the capabilities of what to do, you can go in and build the rescue tubes around the victim as a dam, and then sink it down around them and then evacuate the grain from the inside until they come loose,” Neenan said.

Chief Jeremy Holloway with Rockingham County Fire and Rescue said it’s been since 1995 since the county has had to perform a grain bin rescue, but the knowledge on how to perform one is still important.

Holloway said the simulator will not stay and the department will likely make their own simulator at some point, but the equipment to make a save will stay.

Rockingham County Fire and Rescue was one of 41 other winners for the grant from across the country, but the only department in Virginia.

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