by Enrico Villamaino

The Broome County Farm Bureau (BCFB) was on hand at the 103rd annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) in Atlanta to raise awareness about agricultural EMS and the importance of training farm medics.

Raising awareness about agricultural EMS

Judi Whittaker and Eric Winsor of the Broome County Farm Bureau were on hand at the AFBF Convention to inform attendees about the importance of well-trained farm based emergency medical services. Photo by Enrico Villamaino

Judi Whittaker, of Whitney Point, NY, a member of the BCFB, said that an accident in March 2021 involving a Binghamton, NY, man has swiftly brought about a change in New York laws. “New York was the only state in the nation that did not allow medical flight crews to carry or distribute blood during emergencies,” she explained. “Travis Flanagan had to have both of his legs amputated below the knee after his overalls got caught in a corn picker which pulled him in. A conventional ambulance couldn’t reach him. He needed a helicopter. Travis desperately needed blood, and the New York-based air ambulance service didn’t have it. As luck would have it, the New York air ambulance was already en route to another incident when Travis’s call came in.” An air ambulance out of Sayre, PA, answered the call instead. It was stocked with the life-saving supply of blood that paramedics were able to transfuse to Travis, right there at the accident site.

Things moved quickly after that, and on Dec. 22, 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law Senate Bill 4085A, which allows for New York air ambulances to carry blood products.

Given the often remote nature of farming accidents, it is exceedingly important that those at the accident site have the proper training to deal with the situation. According to Harpursville, NY, resident and BCFB representative Eric Winsor, farm medic training for local EMS responders had traditionally been held yearly by local fire departments. But in Broome County, the trainings had fallen by the wayside. “It wasn’t something they were preparing for,” he said.

In the wake of the Flanagan incident, BCFB took the initiative to host a class. A collection of New York State personnel, Broome County Fire and EMS staff and local fire department officers put together a three-day classroom and field-based training. LifeNet, an air ambulance service from Sidney, NY, also conducted a “Stop the Bleed” class.

“The training,” Winsor expounded, “went over things like how to free a trapped victim from farm equipment… how to raise equipment and block it safely for extracting the victim.”

According to Whittaker, over 60 firefighters have to date completed the training program.

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