Farm safety stressed at fair
ARGOS – Use duct tape on a wound? Improvise with whatever is in your truck? Yes, according to the Farm Safety Seminar at the Marshall County 4-H Fair Sunday night. Presenter Benni Weldy, a full-time paramedic and firefighter with the Zionsville Fire Department, is also the public education officer. The seminar was sponsored by the Culver Young Farmers and was well attended.
Weldy began by saying that there were 12,000 deaths and 210,000 injuries caused by farm accidents last year. While farm families recognize the dangers of farm life, they might not be aware of some smart tips when accidents occur.
The first rule, according to Weldy, is to not put yourself in harm’s way. If you cannot safely help a victim out of an overturned truck or tractor, a flooded ditch, or a grain bin, then do not put yourself in danger. Call 911 and let the professionals do the job they have been trained for. Other tidbits included:
• Leave a victim in a wrecked car unless it is on fire. Cars do not “blow up” as in movies, and you might damage sensitive nerve or blood organs trying to help them get out.
• Don’t go closer than 30 feet to a downed power line. You could still be electrocuted closer than that, or the line might have a tendency to whip up and move toward you.
• If you are in a car or truck which is touched by a downed power line, do not get out. The tires will insulate you from the electricity.
• Call 911 early. Some farmers are reluctant to call or go to the hospital. “I can deal with this,” they say. There is no trouble or expense when you call 911. Let the professionals decide what needs to be done. “We’d rather be safe than sorry,” Weldy said.
Another common issue is shock and the danger of death that accompanies it. Shock is characterized by the victim appearing pale, cool, sweaty, and/or dizzy. Shock victims can tend to fall down, hitting their head on the ground or an object. You should always make shock victims sit down, and then call 911.
Weldy also recommended learning CPR, and being recertified every two years. Classes are widely available, and CPR training increases a victim’s survival rate ten times. You have four minutes to perform CPR on a victim to prevent death by heart failure.
“Don’t worry if you are reluctant to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” she said. “That does not have to be done any more. It has been determined that the most effective CPR method is compression, not mouth-to-mouth.”
In her inimitable way, Weldy advised covering up “whatever looks gross.” Any wound should be covered with bandages or, if not available, with whatever is handy, such as a clean towel, a clean shirt, etc. With bleeding wounds, she advised using pressure. If the covering becomes soaked with blood (very common in a head wound), you should add more covering on top, but never remove the first covering, because that could tear the wound open again.
For nose bleeds, she advised leaning forward, using an ice pack on the bridge of the nose, and plugging the nostril with a tampon (Yes, a woman’s tampon—the same treatment the hospital uses and charges $60 for!). Nose bleeds which cannot be stopped are dangerous because if a person has high blood pressure, a stroke could ensue.
In the case of an eye injury where an object has pierced the eye, you should never pull the object back out. This could cause a loss of eye fluid which can never be replaced. Instead, you should protect the eye with something like a Solo cup (brand immaterial) secured with common duct tape, which farmers usually have nearby, and call 911. The hospital is best equipped to remove the object. An issue, according to Weldy, becomes how to keep the eyes from moving, since the uninjured eye will naturally track things in front of it, causing the injured eye to move also. The solution is to use the “Solo cup” method on the good eye as well, making the victim look like a space creature.
Other suggestions for using materials at hand are: use a screwdriver or other rigid stick-like tool and duct tape to splint a broken finger; and use a farm magazine or sheaf of papers or newspapers and duct tape to splint a broken arm. In such cases, do not tape the splint too tightly.
She advises not picking at scabs or wounds. The scab is there for a purpose, and removing it interferes with healing. For burns, she says, immerse in cold water. When you remove the burned area from the water, if it still hurts, wrap it with plastic or aluminum foil to keep air off. It is the air which causes the pain. In the case of heavy objects or machinery falling on top of a victim with them pinned underneath, Weldy cautions not pulling things off. Instead, you should stabilize the person as is, and call 911.
In spite of the awkwardness, you should remove wet or contaminated clothing from a victim (strip them naked). If a person is overheating, characterized by stopping sweating, you should get them into a cool place, take their clothes off, use ice packs on their groin and armpits, call 911, and have them drink plenty of water. For frostbite — victims will look rigid and white — put them in lukewarm water, not hot. They will not be able to feel if they are being scalded. Finally, Weldy recommended having a check-in system where the farmer calls the house every few hours. This would avoid being trapped under a tractor, say, for an excessive period of time without help.
Benni Weldy is very equipped to lead an informative session such as this one. She taught agriculture as Caston High School for two years, until a student was killed in an accident. During her teaching tenure, however, she was also involved in the Culver Young Farmers, since she lived on a family corn and soybean farm in Kirkland, Ind. Changing careers, she became a paramedic and firefighter, working first for the Lawrence Fire department. She tired of being “shot at,” she said, in bad areas of Lawrence, so she moved to the Zionsville department where she has worked for three years. She is involved with the Young Farmers organization on the state level.
The Culver Young Farmers group which sponsored this event also presented a welcome incentive to those attending the seminar — a food coupon worth $5 to be used at selected food vendors at the Fair.