Quick, give me the address of the field you last combined! Hurry, it’s a family member that’s been injured! How would you describe it to Dispatch Services? Which field entrance should they use? Do you actually know where you are? What if it’s dark? These are challenges farms face in emergency situations that the industry is not addressing in proactive and preventative planning.
Years in the military taught me that having a plan is always better than going into a situation blind, even if the plan doesn’t work out as it should (it almost never does). While agricultural technology has had almost an exponential growth in the last few decades, emergency response planning and coordination looks nearly identical to 50 years ago. An accident happens, emergency responders are directed to a general location, and they figure out the situation once they get there.
Is this how you want it to look on your farm, when your life or a family members are at risk?
I am not an advocate of fear mongering, this is just the reality of farm operations today. You should feel safe and well prepared if something happens on your operation. So, how do you prepare your farm and your family?
- Create blueprints of your farm and home sites. The word blueprints scares a lot of people, but it really just means draw a picture or make a layout on the computer of how your farm looks from the air. You can even use actual aerial images and overlay text.
- Number all of your buildings, storage, and fuel tanks. Seem simple and unnecessary? Guess what, I don’t know what the “farrowing shack behind the chicken building” and neither do Emergency Responders. Label all buildings with DOT reflective tape and large numbers on metal or wood stock and attach it to building in the most visible location. Then, annotate the numbers on your blueprint.
- Invite local Emergency Responders to your operation for a meeting. Contact the Sherriff, local Police, EMT, HAZMAT, DNR and other service providers to your farm to talk about the hazards present on your facility, establish or strengthen a relationship, and involve them in the planning process. Also invite a representative of your insurance providers.
- Conduct a walk-thru of your farm operation. After meeting with the responders and discussing the hazards and planning you’re putting together, walk around the site location to better identify hazards, answer questions, and create awareness of what is actually present at your facility.
- Upload your blueprints to an online platform, and make physical copies. Download mySmart911 on your mobile device, add your family information, and upload your completed and refined blueprints. If your Emergency Responders use IAmResponding as a response tracking application, provide them a copy of your information to upload. If they don’t give them a copy anyway so if there is an emergency they can grab it and look on the way.
- Create a sheet with all field names, grid coordinates, and main entrances. From the comfort of your computer drop a pin on the main field entrance of each field location. Record this on a one or two page sheet and upload with the other documents and print several copies to laminate and stick in each piece of equipment.
Taking these steps will protect your family and employees, as well as Emergency Responders, and make your farm more efficient. You may also save some money!
For more information contact Shay Foulk at (319)464-5708 or email at [email protected] for an Emergency Response Sheet, blueprint examples, and to learn more about how you can do this for your operation.