MASON CITY, Iowa - The hazards that face workers in the agriculture industry during harvest are numerous, both in the fields and in and around grain elevators.
And while grain may appear to be fairly light at first glance, in reality, a lot of it weighing you down can entrap you and cut off your air supply, which could lead to death.
This week, first responders with the Mason City Fire Department took part in a training simulator that shows what an entrapment under a large mound of grain could look like, this first time a simulator of its kind has been brought to the department. Using grain donated by Five Star Co-Op, a volunteer would sink themselves into the grain. Then, using rods to spot where the person is located underneath, responders piecing together a metal tube that would prevent more grain from seeping in, using an auger to drain it out and get the person to safety, while standing on milk and pop crates to prevent further sinking and shifting.
Josh Deverell volunteered to be the one trapped in the grain, and shared his experience.
"There's so much pressure on your legs and lower body that you really can't move. Every time you try to move, the pressure gets more and more because it's trying to fill that void space."
Assistant Deputy Chief of Training Randy Elsbernd has experience growing up around agriculture, and knows the seriousness of the situation.
"We get people from all over the area. We get people that come from Milwaukee and Mankato that have not been around any agriculture at all, so this is really beneficial to them and myself and others that have been around agriculture."
In terms of how long it would take to get someone out, Elsbernd says it depends on a few factors: bin size, how far down the person is trapped, and how many staff and emergency personnel are on hand to help. Depending on these conditions, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.