Emergency responders embrace agricultural safety Resource

An agricultural safety resource known as “Tools of the Trade” is proving popular with emergency medical responders who are trying to prevent trauma incidents in their communities, and is also being promoted to traditional agricultural safety educators during National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 17-23.

Tools of the Trade, an online collection of video demonstrations and accompanying handouts, was favorably received by hundreds of attendees at the 2023 Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services Association (WEMSA) conference held last winter in Green Bay.

“The idea was to introduce EMS personnel to interactive safety ‘tools’ that they can replicate and use to teach community members about farm safety and health,” said Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D., agricultural youth safety specialist at the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. “We know that EMS and fire personnel are trusted by farmers, so for them to share safety and health information with farmers is ideal.”

Approximately 90 percent of WEMSA participants surveyed indicated the Tools session was relevant to their work and that the interactive exhibit design enhanced their learning experience at the conference. Survey comments included:

  • “The session was eye-opening to this city boy.”
  • “Very informative.”
  • “Amazing to see the agricultural safety tools that are out there that we had no idea were available.”

WEMSA featured the Tools of the Trade in its opening session, foregoing the traditional “keynote” speaker in favor of a multi-hour “KEY NOT” event. More than 400 attendees rotated in small groups amongst 19 Tools of the Trade stations and through three additional demonstration areas featuring a livestock trailer, a grain silo entrapment and an ATV simulator.

The scenarios were new for many urban providers, WEMSA Executive Director Alan DeYoung said, and rural providers benefited as well. “Those who have responded to ag calls found there were new techniques they could use, new resources they could bring back. They are responding to calls on farms, but may not have known all the details that go into preplanning and mapping out a farm, and the hazards they might run into,” DeYoung said.

Tools of the Trade featured at the conference included:

  • Activities duplicating the ATV and grain demos, enabling participants to share these safety messages without needing to host the large demos.
  •  Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines featuring activities using an interactive website to assess a young worker’s abilities to complete tasks safely.
  •  Using a work boot and a simulated shoelace to illustrate reaction time and the dangers of entanglement in a spinning power-takeoff (PTO) shaft.
  •  Safety Games, such as a Farm Safety Game, Test Your Knowledge and Jeopardy.

The individual “Tools of the Trade” are available to anyone through the Cultivate Safety website. The site includes instructions for creating activities, video demonstrations illustrating how to create and use these tools, and participant handouts. There are 25 tools available, with more under development. There is also a media kit, which can be customized and used to help promote community events featuring these tools.

“The WEMSA conference was the first time we hosted such a large number of TOTs (Tools of the Trade) in one session, as well as the first time we used it with an EMS group,” Salzwedel said. “It was a great opportunity to try this on a larger scale – and with a new audience to see how it would work. Not only was it a great success at the conference, but it enabled us to create and share several new TOTs, which have been added to the website. We hope this is just the start of events featuring these tools.”

Organizations contributing to the Tools collection included Ohio State University, AgriSafe, Progressive Agriculture Foundation, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-funded Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health, and others.

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