MITCHELL COUNTY, Iowa - With fall harvest starting in a matter of days, many farmers and their families will be on the roads and in the fields. But without using caution around machinery and other implements, it can take a turn for the worst.
During a farm safety day at a farm near Grafton on Thursday, students from St. Ansgar and Osage schools learned not only the most obvious and well known dangers of what's on the farm, but also ones they may not be aware of.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, agriculture-related deaths, including corn farming, totaled 21 in Iowa in 2017.
"It can only take a split second."
Matt Ross of Charles City was crushed twice while using a backhoe to fix a water line, and shared his story.
"I bent down between the bucket and the beam that the bucket attaches to. I was working on the water line, and the bucket closed on me and pushed me into the bucket. The first time it happened, it was a mechanical error that when he [the backhoe operator] let go of the joystick on the backhoe, it didn't go back to perfect neutral. It went past neutral and caused the bucket to crush me."
He sustained major injuries, including a broken back, split sternum, crushed ribs and two vertebrae pushed so far in that it cut his heart and back of his right lung, causing him to bleed internally and lose feeling in parts of his legs. He also went into cardiac arrest four times.
"It was the most calm, surreal feeling I've ever experienced in my life. I could see everybody, but couldn't hear anything."
Not only is large machinery or augers a concern on the farm, as people can also contract illness from animals. Most recently at this year's Minnesota State Fair, 11 cases of E. coli were reported, stemming from the Miracle of Birth Center. Six were hospitalized, and one remains in the hospital with a serious kidney complication.
Ashlie Kobit is a vet with the Osage Veterinary Clinic.
"If you are touching them and then don't wash your hands, or touch them and touch your face, you can definitely introduce it into your body yourself.
"Even...fences, if they're holding onto a fence or something, wash your hands after that."
So before firing up that combine, or working on any sort of project, Ross advises people to just slow down and use caution.
"There's nothing out there on the farm, taking crops out, fixing a broken water line, take your time. There's nothing out there worth what you're going to go through if something happens."
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