PRINCE ALBERT, Alta. — Firefighters in northern Saskatchewan spent the weekend practicing how to use their new equipment for rescuing people who get trapped in grain.
The Prince Albert fire department's grain entrapment rescue device uses metal plates, which are shoved into the grain in order to form a tube around the trapped person.
That prevents more grain from falling on the person as they are rescued, and the grain can then be shovelled out to free them.
According to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, cases of grain entrapment deaths have been growing in recent years.
The Prince Albert fire department was in the process of buying the equipment before deaths, but the incidents hung heavy during the test demonstration with flax in a grain truck.
"It sucks around your legs and torso and you can't even lift your knees to try and pull yourself out," explained firefighter Craig Kihn, who took part in the weekend training.
"You're not really held down, just sucked down and trapped."
Firefighters tried to get him out but sunk into the flax themselves. The more they struggled and the harder they pulled, the more they sank into the seeds.
Kihn was pulled out to his waist but that was as far as he would go. One firefighter remarked the grain was "like cement."
Fire Chief Jason Everitt said no one has died from grain entrapment in Prince Albert, but noted there have been instances with the potential for people to become trapped.
"We want to be prepared and proactive in the case this does happen," Everitt said.
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