Sumter County Farm Bureau hosts safety event
By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
Four-year-old Lane Aldridge took the pilot seat in the AirEvac LifeTeam Bell 260 helicopter, under the watchful eye of pilot Don Heironimus. The boy’s face lit up at the sight of all the switches, knobs and gauges aviation has to offer. The controls and the view through the chopper’s bubble windshield had the full attention of Aldridge, the grandson of Ware County Farm Bureau President Victor Aldridge, during the March 17 Sumter County Farm Safety Day in Americus.
To be sure, Sumter County Farm Bureau (SCFB), which hosted the event, wanted it to be an attention-getter that might prevent an accident, sidestep an injury or save a life. If Lane’s experience is any indication, SCFB hit its mark.
The event at the Sumter County Fairgrounds addressed stress (human and bovine), accident prevention and rescue operations in hopes that area farmers would come away with increased awareness on safety topics.
“Every year we have farm-related accidents,” said SCFB President Matt Berry, who organized the event. “We have issues come up. There are always going to be accidents in the industry. My goal is for somebody to leave here with a different perspective that will help change that. At the end of the day if we save one person an accident or a death or injury, then we’ve won what we’re after.”
Organizers shared a video message from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, whose father died in a grain bin entrapment incident, and Sumter County Fire and Rescue personnel staged a demonstration of a grain entrapment rescue.
Georgia Foundation for Agriculture Executive Director Lily Baucom and UGA Extension Southwest Health Agent Jennifer Dunn presented information about managing farm stress. Dunn talked about ways people cope with stress – some healthy, some not – and shared how breath control can help in stressful situations.
Dunn said studies have shown that deep breaths can shift the portion of the brain controlling behavior from the “fight-or-flight” portion of the nervous system to the more rational, higher-functioning thought center (prefrontal cortex). One approach, endorsed by the Navy SEALs, is called box breathing, in which the individual inhales for four seconds, exhales for four seconds, inhales for four seconds, exhales for four seconds, and so on.
UGA Animal & Dairy Science Farm Manager Andy Dunn demonstrated how to prompt cattle to move without causing them stress by using the animals’ flight zones, areas in relation to their bodies that, when entered, prompt them to move away.
South Georgia Technical College Commercial Truck Driving Instructor Robert Cook and Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance Division Lt. Jonathan Schwendinger chatted with participants about road safety and rules pertaining to use of tractor-trailer rigs to transport farm goods.
Jim Reid of Reid Brothers Irrigation presented information on electrical and irrigation pivot safety.
AirEvac representative Laine Lee shared information about the company’s emergency evacuation operations, targeted at rescuing medical emergency victims from remote areas. Georgia Farm Bureau members get a discount on AirEvac subscription fees.