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Ohio firefighters save man ‘trapped to his armpits’ in grain bin

In March 2023, Fire Chief Andy Mason and his team of first responders with the Wilmington Fire Department were dispatched to a nearby farm for a grain bin entrapment in Sabina, Ohio.

“It was about 11:30 in the morning and we got a call that he was trapped to his waist,” said Mason. “Before we got to the scene, they said he was trapped to his armpits. So we’re thinking, he’s sinking.”

Grain entrapments can happen in seconds and quickly turn fatal. At least 42 entrapments occurred in the U.S. in 2022, leading to 15 fatalities.  

“As soon as we got there, we were able to make sure he was talking to us, making sure he wasn’t going any deeper,” said Mason. “Then we could transition and start actually trying to figure out how to rescue him out of there.”

Local fire departments are often the first and only line of defense when grain entrapments occur. To safely rescue entrapped victims, fire departments must use specialized grain rescue equipment.

“We used the rescue tubes to build a circle around him and then we built a wall around the tubes for the workers to work inside of,” said Lieutenant Rolfe, who led the rescue efforts inside the bin and was first on scene.

Without the specialized rescue tube and training, there’s no way the first responders could have performed the rescue they did, Mason added.

The Wilmington Fire Department was awarded a grain rescue tube and training from Nationwide in 2016. Over the past ten years, Nationwide has supplied grain rescue tubes and training to hundreds of fire departments across the U.S. This was the seventh successful rescue utilizing these resources, including another 2023 rescue of a worker trapped in a sand bin in Sussex County, Delaware

“It gives us all a good feeling to have a successful rescue,” said Rolfe. “It’s really good to know the patient made it out alive and is back home with his family.”

For more information about Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety program and purpose, visit www.ThinkGrainBinSafety.com.