Union Co. man returns home after spending hours trapped in grain bin
UNION CO., Ky. (WFIE) - When the top layer of corn in Doug Omer’s grain bin gave way, Omer went right down with it, trapped in a giant metal tube.
His nephew, Logan, dove in after him, and first responders were there not long after.
Once they realized they weren’t going to be digging Omer out by hand, they put their rescue tube to work.
Piece-by-piece, they assembled the tube, preparing to put Omer inside of it and dig him out.
At one point, officials were considering cutting a hole in the grain bin to get him out.
Morganfield firefighter Dale Pierce says that Omer was awake the whole time, and he was adamant that they do no such thing.
“We said, hey, they said something about cutting a hole in the side of the grain bin. He says no man. He says, don’t cut a hole in my grain bin,” says Pierce, “y’all just keep working.”
Pierce says that cutting a hole in the grain bin would have also been extremely risky.
“If they had cut a hole and it not been the right spot,” says Pierce, “it could have sucked us all in one direction, and now you’ve got three rescuers, a paramedic, and Mr. Omer. So now you’ve got five people if something went bad to rescue, instead of just one.”
Once the victim’s inside of the tube, they have to take an auger powered by a hand drill, and start pulling the corn out from around the victim.
Simple enough, but they quickly ran into a problem.
“When we worked this down, he wasn’t standing vertical. He was like, sitting on his butt and his feet were out that way,” says Pierce.
They had a second rescue tube though, which they used to free up Omer’s legs.
The biggest issue that they ran into on the technology side was battery power.
The augers on the two rescue tubes had to be powered by regular hand drills, and the battery packs continued to run out.
“These drills aren’t made, really, to run this auger,” says Union County EMA Director Rick White, “they’re made to drill holes.”
White and Pierce say that they had no shortage of batteries though, as everybody with a rechargeable battery pack on hand had lent them without question.
White says that they even had local shops calling them to say that they had extra batteries on standby if the need arose.
After 4.5 hours, they were able to finally get him out. He was then airlifted to a hospital.
White says the reason it takes so long is you can’t just reach in and yank somebody out.
“Someone covered up to their neck, it takes about 900 pounds of force and pressure to pull them out. Well when you exert that amount of force on a human body, you just can’t do it. It’s going to result in injury, possibly death,” says White.
White and Pierce say they can’t begin to name everybody who helped, but they’re especially grateful to the people holding the ropes that kept them from going under as well.
They also wanted to thank the stores that supplied bread pallets.
The pair called them “snowshoes.”
Pierce and White say they could sit the pallets on top of the corn and walk across without fear of falling under.
They train for scenarios like these all the time, but this is the first time they’ve had to actually put the grain bin practice into training.
Each man told me that they’re just grateful it resulted in a rescue.
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