Those of us who have responded to a difficult farm emergency quickly learn that this type of call can be extremely challenging. Instead of a working in a kitchen – we find ourselves in a silo or grain bin. Instead of a highway – we find ourselves in a muddy field carrying our tools to the scene. Instead of easily removing wreckage from our patient – we find ourselves trying to work on machinery stronger than our own heavy rescue tools. We not only need to be concerned with the patient, but with the hazards that have injured and killed rescuers.
Appropriate training in farm/rural rescue results in better patient outcomes and reduces the likelihood of rescuer injury or death. Some positive results of the National FARMEDIC Training Program are: shorter notification, response, and extrication times; improved first aid, EMS, and hospital care; and fewer rescuer injuries.
The need to educate the farm community is equally important. As rescuers we know that the events of the first minutes of an emergency strongly influence the outcome. We also know that there is often a delay in the notification of emergency services and that response times can be lengthy. These facts make our First-On-The-Scene curriculum extremely valuable. This program educates the farm community in the proper activation of emergency services, basic first aid procedures, and when rescue of a fellow worker is not possible. This last area is included due to the nature of some entrapments and toxic emergencies.
Educating hospital personnel is also important because nursing and physician courses rarely include agricultural injury information. As a result, medical personnel know little about the complexities of farm machinery trauma or exposures to silo gas or anhydrous ammonia. Hospital emergency medicine personnel need to be oriented to farm injuries and provided reference materials and information on available rehabilitation services.