Area firefighters and co-op employees spent some time recently learning how to rescue someone from grain engulfment.
The training took place using the Kansas University grain engulfment rescue trainer, which was parked in the Western State Bank Expo for three days.
Beginning Thursday, grain workers and fire department employees from southwest Kansas spent a little time in the classroom then climbed on the engulfment trainer for hands-on experience.
"This puts you in the real situation," said Kyle Eberle, general manager of the Right Co-op Association. "You can own the equipment and read the information, but there's nothing like getting in there and trying it yourself."
Trainers use a five-gallon bucket to demonstrate what happens when a person standing atop a silo filled with grain is sucked down because of an air pocket or grain unexpectedly flowing out the bottom of the container.
"You can become fully engulfed in seven seconds," said Ken Miller, representative for Ag Services, a division of KFSA (Kansas Farmers Services Association).
"Once you have grain up to your knees, you can't move enough to get out," he said.
The situation is demonstrated with an action figure.
Grain is allowed to flow out the bottom of the bucket. The action figure standing on top disappears quickly under the grain.
Simulating the rescue procedure, a hole is cut in four sides of the bucket allowing grain to flow out until the action figure can be seen. Then a tube representing the cofer dam used in case of an actual engulfment is pushed around the trapped man, preventing grain from continually filling in around him, and the grain is removed from inside the can.
Grain can weigh as much as 60 pounds per bushel and some elevator silts hold up to 300,000 bushels. The task of removing someone who's trapped can be challenging.
The rescue trainer, a cooperative project led by the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute and Kansas University and sponsored by the Kansas Cooperative Council, the Kansas Grain and Feed Association and KFSA, will be used for over 100 classes this year, in locations around the state, with up to 20 students in each class.
Employees from Right Co-op, Pride Ag, Southern Plains Co-op, Offerle Coop, the Dodge City and Ford County fire departments and the Jetmore and Hodgeman County fire departments all participated in this week's classes.
Follow Don Steele on Twitter @Don_dcglobe.