Firefighters in Co Laois spent a day training on a local farm to prepare for call-outs to farm accidents.

Members of the fire brigade from Durrow and Abbeyleix stations travelled to Fergal Bates’ farm to train and plan for typical farm accidents such as entrapment in machinery or crushing by a vehicle.

Tom Lalor, Abbeyleix station officer, and Anthony Tynan, assistant chief fire officer in Durrow, organised the training.

“We are in a fairly rural county and we decided that we should prepare for farm accidents,” Tynan told the Irish Farmers Journal. “We used the opportunity to look at certain machines on the farm and how we would prepare for a call-out.”

“We are not often called to farm accidents because, unfortunately, with machinery being so powerful these days, there is often no one to be rescued,” he said.

“We had a look at a diet feeder to see what would happen if someone fell in. It’s very unlikely anyone would survive it at all.”

The fire crews trained on the Bates farm, setting up theoretical emergencies such as a person trapped in a mower, caught on a PTO shaft and fallen under a machine.

“Some of our lads are farmers and some of them are actually trained as agricultural mechanics so they could help us plan how to remove a person trapped,” explained Tynan.

“The cutting equipment we use is designed for cars and would not be suitable for farm machinery, which has much heavier steel. So for farm machinery, we would try to take the machine apart using impact guns, unbolting and dismantling the machine.”

The crews also practised using their inflatable lifting mats, which can lift up to 20t weight off the ground and would be used in crush accidents.

Most of the farm-related accidents the Laois crews deal with are incidents involving tractors on the road.

“I’ve seen one incident between a tractor and a car and, contrary to what you might think, the tractor driver came off much worse,” recalled Tynan. “There was no damage done to the tractor and the car driver was ok but the tractor driver was thrown around the cab and suffered spinal injuries. There are no airbags in a tractor and they can move at big speeds.”

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