LUMBERTON — The directors of the Robeson County Farm Bureau understand how important grain bin safety is, and they recently made a decision that could mean the difference in life or death for farm workers and emergency personnel.
They purchased two grain bin rescue kits.
Lycurous Lowry, the Robeson County Farm Bureau president, said the organization had recently been presented with the idea of purchasing these kits, and had been working through its Safety Committee to increase awareness of safety precautions that should be taken when working in and around grain bins.
“There are more grain bins in the county here than there used to be, so there’s more opportunity for someone to become entrapped in grain, and we want to try to make sure that if it does happen we’ve got all the right tools in place to avoid a fatality, if at all possible …. It just felt like the right thing to do,” Lowry said.
According to a study conducted at Purdue University, 2010 topped the charts as the most hazardous year on record, with 59 entrapments, and 26 deaths. In 2013, there were a recorded 33 entrapments and 13 deaths; in 2014, 38 entrapments, and 17 deaths.
“We don’t want anyone in Robeson County to become a statistic. This is important. It’s important that we have these kits available to emergency services personnel in our county, and it’s also important to make sure that folks are trained on how to properly use them. We hope to have all the firefighters and EMTs and emergency responders trained on how to use the kits and in general to respond to something like a grain entrapment,” said Kevin Roberts, a farmer and board member for bureau.
Roberts’ family farm has previously served as a training facility in agricultural rescue demonstrations conducted by the NC Agromedicine Institute. Back in February, a grain bin safety training was held as part of the Southeast Fire Rescue/Police Expo. There is another training, specifically focused on grain bin rescue, set to take place in early June.
Patrisse Locklear heads up the Robeson County Farm Bureau Safety Committee, and one of her goals for the year is to promote safety in all facets — home, farm, and automobile.
“We are so excited. Our farmers and our county needed this,” said Locklear.
According to the N.C. Agricultural Statistics Bulletin put out by USDA, nearly 70,000 acres of grain were harvested in Robeson County in 2016. Agriculture is a major industry inSoutheastern North Carolina, as well as the leading industry in North Carolina, accounting for nearly $84 billion of the state’s $495 billion gross state product.