Community fundraises for new rescue equipment for farm emergencies

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The Gibbon Fire Department has a new piece of equipment inside their station that’s only for rescues from grain bins and silos.

The Rural Rescue Response trailer, or R3 for short, was recently designed by the fire department to provide tools that the Sibley County department lacked.

“To bring this concept that can help us better serve our farmers in our area for rural rescues, to get that concept to come to life is fantastic,” Gibbon firefighter Nate Firle said.

The 16-foot trailer is equipped with a special high-power vacuum to quickly move grain in the bin away from the victim.

“It would make it more strategic as far as where we can move the grain around the victim, to at least get the pressure off of them,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jason Rettig.

Fundraising began in the community for the new equipment after a rescue of a farmer a few years ago.

The R3 also has other tools to help rescue crews protect the victim as they work to move the grain away in hopes of freeing the person who is trapped.

Before having the R3, Rettig told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they’d use shovels and pails to help move the grain.

Minnesota historically is in the top three states with the most grain entrapment cases, behind Indiana and Iowa, according to a 2021 report from Purdue University.

Nationwide, there were 23 fatal and 36 non-fatal cases involving agricultural confined spaces, based on the Purdue report.

Gibbon firefighters hope their new rescue equipment protects their friends in the community and others in the area when an emergency strikes.

“It’s the first of its kind. I don’t like to say one of a kind. Our ultimate goal: This paves the way for other rural departments,” Firle said.