Rockton FPD firefighters responded about 8:53 a.m. Friday, January 31, 2014 to a report of a man trapped in a corn bin at 10794 Bates Road, Rockton, Illinois. Firefighters immediately called for a TRT Box Alarm to the Second Level for mutual aid and specialized rescue teams.
Firefighters from Belvidere, Boone County, Cherry Valley, Loves Park, South Beloit, Northwest, Durand (Wisconsin), Harlem-Roscoe, and Winnebago County responded to assist Rockton firefighters. Several of the communities brought Technical Rescue Team (TRT) members and equipment.
Firefighters worked for about five hours on the rescue — initially setting up grain retainer walls and fitting the victim with a harness. An aerial was set up at the top of the corn bin. The man was rescued and able to walk to a waiting ambulance.
ATS paramedics were on the scene and Metro EMS was on standby in the Rockton fire house.
Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins. In 2010, 51 workers were engulfed by grain stored in bins, and 26 died-the highest number on record, according to a report issued by Purdue University [PDF] Suffocation can occur when a worker becomes buried (engulfed) by grain as they walk on moving grain or attempt to clear grain built up on the inside of a bin. Moving grain acts like “quicksand” and can bury a worker in seconds. “Bridged” grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker stands on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without assistance. OSHA has sent notification letters to approximately 13,000 grain elevator operators warning the employers to not allow workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions (such as turning off and locking/tagging out all equipment used so that the grain is no being emptied or moving into the bin) and training.
In 2010, the states with the most grain documented entrapments, fatal and non-fatal, were Illinois (10), Minnesota (8), Wisconsin (7), and Iowa (5). This geographic distribution parallels the long-term trend for these events to occur primarily in the Corn Belt. Overall, entrapments were documented in 17 states in 2010.
Historically, 70% of all documented entrapments, where the site was known, have occurred on farms currently exempt from the OSHA Grain Handling Facilities standards (29 CFR 1910.272) with the balance taking place at commercial grain facilities.
In 2010, the primary causes leading to entrapment of most victims were identified as entering a bin to loosen crusted, spoiled or frozen grain while unloading equipment was running (26 incidents, 51%), or falling into grain transport vehicles while they were being either loaded or unloaded (3 incidents, 6%). There continues to be a direct relationship between out-of-condition, or spoiled, grain and a greater probability of entrapment.
The population of Rockton was 7,685 at the 2010 census, and is located about 10 miles north of Rockford near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.
See also …
Purdue University 2010 Summary of Grain Entrapments in the United States
US Department of Labor Grain Handling