Farmers And Firefighters
Rural firefighters and first responders are highly-esteemed and trusted by farmers and rural communities. They can also be influential and motivate farmers to make changes to improve health and safety on their farms. A program from the National Farm Medicine Center is training emergency responders to provide those safety resources and consultation with farmers in their service areas.
Rural health communications specialist Scott Heiberger says the program is called "Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health".
"We’ve up to this point trained about a hundred master trainers, we call them, that can then go back to their parts of the country in 12 or so states right now and start to train their fellow firefighters in their departments and spread this message and this training program," says Heiberger. "This has been very successful, we kind of know what works now and in 2020 will be rolling it out a little more broadly."
There are five curriculum models. Firefighters are training in the classroom and in the field.
"We know that there are fewer people on those departments that have farm experience or grew up on farms. But even if they did, technology keeps changing. And also, fire departments don’t respond to farm emergencies all that often. They can be extremely disastrous when they do occur, but it’s not something they practice a lot," he says. "So, it’s really important that they train for this and they’re very motivated to do so and if you do have a grain bin incident or something you’ve got to know what to do right away."
The first responders will also educate farmers about online tools that will help them improve farm safety and health.