Waiting on approval for law to save farm lives   by Judi Whittaker

Farm medic training for local EMS responders used to be held yearly by most fire departments. In Broome County, they had not provided this training in 15 years. No one thought anything about it.

That all changed March 13, 2021. With word of a tragic farm equipment accident, everyone was asking about where they could get the training. Broome County Farm Bureau responded with a generous offer to host a class. Contacts were made with New York State-trained teachers, Broome County Fire and EMS staff and local fire departments. Plans were quickly put into action to provide three days of in-classroom training and hands-on skills use. With the exciting addition of Life Net from Sidney, NY, we also were able to offer a class on “Stop the Bleed.”

Forty local EMS, firefighters and support personnel received explicit training on how to free a trapped victim from equipment and how to block and raise equipment safely for extraction. Class participants used donated farm equipment for their hands-on class. Support was also provided by Broome County Agricultural Society, which allowed use of their grounds for the class.

“The class was informative and provided a lot of good information for rescue personnel. The combination of actual hands-on training as well as basic information taught in the classroom setting will undoubtedly assist the rescuers in the future if summoned to an agricultural accident,” said Jeffrey Buckler, fire coordinator for Broome County.

The effect of this tragic accident to Travis Flannagan sparked broad-reaching questions about his rescue. If it had not been for a Life Net from Pennsylvania this story would have a far different outcome.

New York has a little-known law that does not allow life flight rescues to carry blood products with them. This law has been on the books since the first life flights. Flannagan was fortunate that March day that the flight out of Sidney could not get to him. Pennsylvania laws are different. They allow blood products to be carried on rescue helicopters the responders were able to administer blood products to Flannagan and transport him to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

Flannagan ended up losing both of his legs below the knee from the accident. The husband, father, son, brother and amazing community member has changed the lives of many around him. He was able to assist the first responders in his own rescue. He talked them through what they needed to do. He started asking about the blood products bill and why it is still in effect. His brother started a petition to get signatures to change the law.

The whole process grabbed the attention of Sen. Fred Akshar, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Sen. Michelle Hinchey, and two simultaneously sponsored bills began to make their way through the legislative process. Both bills were passed unanimously, voting to change this long overdue issue.

Akshar said, “The Broome County Farm Bureau’s outstanding farm accident training course helped dozens of first responders learn new tools to help those who find themselves in these life-threatening situations. Numerous state and local agencies chipped in to make this a great success. I was proud to partner with my colleagues in the state legislature to do our part to change this burdensome law as quickly as possible. Since the tragic day in March our community has rallied behind Travis’s inspiring story and now it is the governor’s turn to do what’s right to help save lives by signing this legislation into law immediately.”

Now we wait for Gov. Cuomo to sign the bill into law – a law that has the potential to save even more lives.