Jan 10, 2022 11:22 AM

Midwest Energy arranges $20K in donations for grain bin rescue equipment

Posted Jan 10, 2022 11:22 AM

Midwest Energy is arranging a total of $20,000 in donations to enable 13 regional emergency management services and fire departments to purchase grain entrapment rescue tubes and related accessories. The $20,000 total is made up of $10,000 from Midwest Energy’s Community Fund and $10,000 from Denver-based CoBank, one of Midwest’s lenders. 

Those receiving grants include: Claflin Fire Department, Phillipsburg Fire Department, Hamilton County Emergency Management, Burdett Fire Department, Garden City Fire Department, Sheridan County Fire Department, Wilson Fire Department, Rawlins County Fire District #1, Reno County Fire District #7, Plainville Rural Fire Department, Gove Fire Department, Lane County Fire Department and St. Francis Volunteer Fire Department. Each organization will receive $1,538 towards equipment purchase, which will cost roughly $3,000.

Grain entrapment rescue tubes have multiple inter-locking sections that can be slid around a person, shielding them from the grain pressing against the victim. The grain level inside the tube is then reduced with a brushless battery-powered drill and auger, and the victim is removed. These devices make timely grain bin rescues a possibility.

When a man in Cheyenne County was trapped in a grain bin in July 2021, a rescue tube in neighboring Sherman County was brought in to free him in a matter of minutes. 

Steve Hirsch, an Oberlin-based attorney who also serves as Training Officer for Sheridan County Fire Department and Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council, feels there is a real need for rural fire departments to have these tubes on hand. 

“More and more farms are adding on-site bins, and as a result, grain entrapments are increasingly common,” Hirsch said. “When people become entrapped in grain, every minute counts. These grants allow 13 more counties access to this vital equipment.”

Midwest Energy, headquartered in Hays, is an electric and natural gas cooperative, serving 92,000 customers in Central and Western Kansas.