The Ridgeville Fire Department was one of several Henry County departments recently recognized with the Frank Foss Emergency Medical Service Excellence Award.
The award is given by the St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center Life Flight program.
It recognized the Ridgeville Corners, Liberty-Washington Township, Napoleon, Jewell, Hamler, and Deshler departments for their role in rescuing Jim Homan, rural Napoleon, who was trapped in a grain bin, Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Grain bin mishaps are notoriously deadly.
In fact, Homan said when he arrived at the hospital, a nurse took his hand and said, “’You’re the first person saved from a grain accident.’
“That was a very humbling experience,” he said.
Homan said he’s been getting calls from people in Michigan, Wisconsin, and even Nebraska.
“Apparently (the rescue) was put on video. I haven’t seen it, but others have, and they relate to me things that have happened in their neighborhoods.
“There was one last week in Michigan,” he said.
Homan said he’s been farming for more than 40 years, and had never had a similar accident.
“Not even close,” he said.
As he and a hired man were removing grain from a bin, a clump of frozen grain plugged the outlet.
The only way to clear it was to go into the bin with a long metal rod and break up the blockage.
Once the blockage was clear, the grain “pulled me down so fast, it was crazy.”
He found himself buried up to his armpits, but he could reach his cell phone and call for help.
Rescue workers used a device called a “grain tube” to relieve the pressure of thousands of tons of grain pushing again Homan.
The tube is essentially four curved pieces that are pushed down into the grain around the victim. The pieces interlock, forming a protective cylinder. Rescue workers use heavy duty vacuums to remove grain from around a victim.
Eventually, rescue workers cut openings in the bin to empty it, and Homan was removed from a side door. He had been trapped for about five hours.
He was flown to the hospi- (Continued from first page) tal, where he remained in the emergency room until concerns about hypothermia were resolved.
“I wasn’t there over two hours,” he said.
Homan said several “itsy bitsy” factors came together to save his life.
First, he had his cell phone in his shirt pocket. Had it been in a pants pocket, he couldn’t have reached it to call for help.
Also, the first rescue worker to the scene had completed a training session on grain rescue two years earlier.
Homan said plans are being made for him to speak to fire departments and other groups about the experience.
Dexter Benecke, Ridgeville Fire Department chief, said he and another officer from Ridgeville were at the scene to assist in the rescue. In the meantime, the Ridgeville Fire Department was placed on standby.
Andy Brodbeck, Archbold Fire Department chief, said while AFD does not have its own grain tube, there is a device in the county available to the department.