ROCHESTER, Pa. — The call comes into the county dispatch and the sirens are sounded. It’s a nightmare many farmers don’t even want to consider.
A tractor overturned and a farmer is trapped under the tractor.
Volunteers instantly drop what they are doing and run to help those in need.
This is especially true with firefighters. Sometimes, however, the type of emergency makes the volunteers stop in their tracks to figure out how to provide help.
An effort is under way in Beaver County, Pa., to help volunteers learn how to deal with both farm and large animal accidents. The county will be home to the first program in western Pennsylvania, and the only one in the state to have it based out of fire departments.
“We are very unique,” said Jared Pearsall, acting County Animal and Rescue Team (CART) and Technical Response Farm Team coordinator. “This program has been a work in progress for several months.”
Two teams are being created: a Technical Farm Rescue Team and the Technical Animal Rescue Team.
Volunteers from the Potter, Daugherty and the Big Knob township fire departments are working to develop the teams. Each will have its own set of skills called into action only when a farm tragedy or animal accident occurs.
You do not have to a firefighter to help or to be part of a team in most parts of the state.
The training included two weekends earlier this month — a weekend of training for farm accidents and a weekend of training for accidents involving large animals.
The training for farm accidents included hands-on training for helping a person trapped under a tractor and how not to get yourself hurt in the process. It also included training in extricating someone from a piece of equipment such as a picker or baler, or handling power take off (PTO) accidents on a tractor.
The animal training included lessons on animal behavior, how to handle animals, tips on bandaging a horse if it has injured its leg, how to get a rope halter on a horse that is not wearing one, how to lead a horse and learning how to keep yourself safe when helping a horse.
Other lessons included lifting a livestock trailer upright after it has rolled over and even how to move an animal with a rigging system. The volunteers practiced the maneuvers on a 900-pound horse mannequin to gain real life experience.
Dave Hill, senior extension associate in Penn State’s ag safety and health program, helped lead the event. He said CART teams, or county animal response teams, are being built across Pennsylvania after public outcry to help animals after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans.
The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team was one of the first state programs constructed and it is now building the county-level teams. Its team of animal behavior experts, veterinarians, technical rescue team members helped create curriculum for the county training.
The Beaver County teams will also cross state lines into areas that do not have teams like the Technical Animal Response Team or the Technical Farm Response Team. Any fire or rescue team can call Beaver County for assistance, Pearsall said.
He said the group is willing to go where the help is needed and to work with other fire departments so that everyone remains safe and the injured or those in need get help.
He added his team has had to help in tractor overturns and horses being trapped in a ditch and has learned firsthand how the training is helpful.