Farm Safety Week (Day 7) - Farm accidents: How to save a life in an emergency

10 July 2015

Farm safety week

IOSH Rural Industries Group decided to extend the very successful #farmsafetyweek campaign into the weekend, on the premise that farming is a 24/7 occupation.

Unfortunately, the number of deaths and injuries is not going down, despite all of our efforts.  We also have to be realistic, and anticipate that incidents and emergency situations will continue to occur. So for this, the last article in our series, we are covering ‘emergency procedures’ – to help establish systems and the skills necessary to deal with farm accidents and, if necessary save a life in an emergency.

There can be no substitute for proper training – in first aid, or emergency planning -  so this is just a reminder of what you may already have learned – or flag up what you need to learn? Remember, a swift, calm and correct response could save a life.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we have no hesitation in recommending and referring you to 2 initiatives in Scotland last year.

One was covered in an excellent and very comprehensive article in Farmers Weekly, published on-line on 25 November 2014, entitled “Farm accidents: How to save a life in an emergencyThis appears to have been prepared in association with the Sandpiper Trust, a Scottish charity that provides emergency medical equipment for immediate care in remote and rural areas.

It covered all the necessary elements, including:

  • Injuries you may be confronted with – typical accident scenarios are described, from relatively minor’ wounds to amputations and even more serious injuries..
  • What to do in an emergency – starting with ‘Think safety - Think of your own safety’, eg is it safe for you to approach and help? Look around for dangers, Is it safe to go into the scene? Can you make it safe? If not, call out the emergency services. Do you need to move the victim(s) for their/your safety – perhaps because of the risk of fire, a collapsing building, or toxic gas build-up?
  • Get help - Once you have assessed the scene and ensured your own safety and that of the victim, call for help. Dial 999 [or 112 – see IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION at the end of this article describing how to set up and use a mobile phone to send SMS text messages to 112 in an emergency, and when you cannot get a signal.]
  • Make sure you have all the necessary information to inform the emergency services of your location, type of accident, any hazards at the scene, access issues to the location, number of casualties involved and the emergency services required – fire, police or ambulance.
  • Act quickly If it’s safe to approach, check the victim out, make an assessment of their problem and injuries.
  • Remember your ABCs – Airway, Breathing and CPR.

Pinpoint location and save lives

Back in July 2014, Farmers Guardian Insight (on-line) also carried an article about a (then new) initiative in Scotland intended to help rural workers pinpoint their exact location in an emergency. This was launched by NFU Scotland and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

  • Farmers, crofters and landowners were being asked to adopt an easy-to-use grid reference system to help define accurately their location when summoning help.
  • By carrying a pocket-sized card detailing the grid reference of key landmarks on their land - which are clearly visible to emergency responders - anyone involved in an accident can pass on an accurate location to emergency services, allowing help to find them easily.
  • The reference point cards - detailing unique landmarks such as lochs, prominent hills, masts, water features, churches, bridges or road features - can be copied and kept in multiple locations by everyone on the farm, including on the farm vehicles, in workers’ pockets or pasted to the back of their mobile phones.
  • A simple tool like knowing a suitable location for the emergency services to find a casualty could potentially save time and in turn lives.

At the time, the National Farmers Union Scotland ( NFUS ) regional co-ordinator Lisa Roberts said: “With the number of accidents increasing in the agricultural industry year on year, a simple tool like knowing a suitable location for the emergency services to find a casualty could potentially save time and in turn lives.

“Farming communities, especially those in more rural and remote areas, rely heavily on the services of responders such as SCAA and by working together to raise awareness of the importance of the identification of accurate locations, we can hopefully help emergency services locate the casualty quickly.”

112 Emergency SMS texts

An excellent film is available : ‘Help Me – the secrets of using 112 on a mobile phone in an emergency / accident’, describes how to improve your mobile phone  reception and that when there is a poor mobile phone signal you can still contact Emergency Services by SMS text to 112.  [112 is the Europe-wide emergency number and is also many non-European countries.]

You must register your mobile phone number for the 112 SMS service first though - by texting  ‘register’ (all lower case) to 999 - then reply ‘yes’ when asked to confirm.

This is described more fully in the film, together with the practical steps you can take to get a better signal.

NB. A more detailed explanation of Emergency Procedures and using SMS 112 texts will be posted soon, on RIGs Resources page.

We hope these will help you to review the adequacy of emergency response systems and give you some ideas to help reinforce the messages.