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Ohio tries to save farmers from their silos
Ohio's Department of Agriculture wants farmers to know the dangers of the quicksand effect inside grain silos

Andy Chow
A simulator trains rescuers and farmers about grain collapses.
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In The Region:
The Ohio Department of Agriculture is using the Ohio State Fair to highlight a deadly risk -- the sudden shift of massive amounts of grain in a silo.

Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports on a mobile simulator that demonstrates a rescue and how people can avoid getting stuck in the first place.
LISTEN: Saved from the silo

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(Click image for larger view.)

In the last 10 years, 14 Ohio farmers have died when their grain caved in on them.

The imagery itself is chilling: Walking on top of thousands of bushels of grain inside a giant farming silo when, suddenly, that grain starts to shift creating a quicksand effect. You’re sucked into tons of grain putting immense pressure on your body and you’re stuck. The scenario is something facing farmers all around the state.

That’s why first responders need to know exactly how to rescue a person trapped inside a grain bin. And farmers need to know how to survive the process.

So several state departments have teamed up with the Ohio State University to provide a mobile simulator that demonstrates a rescue and how a person can get stuck in the first place.

The simulator is attached to a tractor trailer so officials can run through the same demonstration around the state. 

A terrifying picture
Ohio’s First Lady Karen Kasich has been a big supporter of the tool and says it’s important for everyone to get real-life experience in this emergency.

“What do they say, ‘A picture’s worth 1,000 words’? ... We could talk about it but to actually see someone go down into the silo and see her being pulled up and helped by the rescue workers and also seeing the demo about how easy it is to get caught really brings the point home.”

State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers says this training can also help first-responders avoid becoming victims themselves.

"You may have two victims because ... someone else may want to jump in and help the person who is sinking in the—in this case—the corn. And that can also happen to first responders if they’re not well-trained if they’re not informed they may jump in that same silo with the victim so now we have two victims.”

Opening the release valve outside the silo causes that quicksand effect. As they tour the state, emergency officials are warning farmers to always make sure that valve is closed before jumping into the bin.

By spreading that message, Flowers hopes farmers will learn how to avoid getting caught in such a situation altogether.

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