University of Iowa students experience grain bin rescue simulation

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - University of Iowa students got a chance to experience a farming emergency as part of an agriculture health and safety course. 

Dan Neenan teaches a class of University of Iowa students how to do a grain bin rescue. (Allison Wong, KCRG)

The students are in school to become physicians, nurses, pharmacists, counselors, and other health care professionals. They are taking this class about agricultural safety so they can better understand how to treat farmers' injuries and what dangers farmers face.

On Tuesday, the class met at the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) building in Peosta. There, NECAS volunteers walked the students through a grain bin rescue simulation.

Adriana Sawncy volunteered to be the victim stuck in the bin. Strapped in a harness, NECAS Director Dan Neenan lowered Swancy into the bin until she was waist deep.

"It was scary," Swancy said afterward. "I definitely felt my legs start to like pulsate and I felt the dust in my airway, so I was starting to panic a little bit.”

Then, two other students acted as the first responders. They safely got themselves into the bin and began to build a wall around Swancy.

"We put a rescue tube around them which is a coffer damn. We build it around them, which does add a little bit of pressure at that point, but then we’ll start scooping grain out from the inside until they become loose," Neenan explained.

The experience will build a better understanding of what farmers go through, according to Neenan.

"Farming is the most dangerous industry in the United States and these people are going to be taking care of the farmers that have gotten injured," he said. "So it’s important for them to know the mechanism of injury, how this injury occurred, why it’s taking an extended amount of time to respond."

Swancy would like to be a counselor that specializes in rural mental health. She expects to work with farmers, so she believes this experience will help her relate to them.

“Hopefully I can build that knowledge and the more I learn, then hopefully the more I can connect, for sure," she said.