New rescue gear available to all county firefighters

Grain engulfment rescue cofferdam donated to Eldorado – Brookview Volunteer Fire Company

Eldorado — It’s a piece of equipment the fire chief hopes he rarely, if ever, will have to use.

There are a number of large grain-drying facilities in Dorchester County, each with their own large grain tanks.

What happens if someone falls into a grain tank? The grain, such as dried corn, might act like quicksand. Someone could struggle to get out, only to sink deeper in the grain. According to Brad Murphy, chief of the Eldorado — Brookview Volunteer Fire Company, using a rope to rescue someone trapped in a grain tank can cause dislocated shoulders or worse injuries.

To avoid future catastrophes, a number of farmers who run grain-drying facilities in Dorchester donated a grain engulfment rescue cofferdam to the volunteer company. The farmers wish to remain anonymous.

The rescue device works much like a cofferdam used to pump water and sediment out of a waterway. The cylindrical cofferdam comes in pieces that can be assembled easily around a victim trapped in grain. An auger removes the grain surrounding the victim until he or she can be freed.

According to Robert Murphy, who was chief of the fire company for 22 years, the rescue cofferdam can be assembled easily by three or four firefighters. Even two firefighters can operate the equipment if need be.

“It’s something that’s great to have ready, but we hope we never have to use,” Chief Brad Murphy said. “More grain bins are going up around here. … Even though it’s housed here, it’s available to every fire house in the county and surrounding counties,” including nearby Sussex County, Del.

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