Chris St. Pierre, a 30-year veteran of the emergency response and safety field, speaks at the Professional Dairy Producers’ annual business conference March 17 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. St. Pierre’s presentation stressed the importance of having an emergency response plan, safety protocols and regular trainings in place on a farm.
PHOTO BY DANIELLE NAUMAN
Chris St. Pierre, a 30-year veteran of the emergency response and safety field, speaks at the Professional Dairy Producers’ annual business conference March 17 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. St. Pierre’s presentation stressed the importance of having an emergency response plan, safety protocols and regular trainings in place on a farm. PHOTO BY DANIELLE NAUMAN
    WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – Being prepared to deal with an on-farm emergency is crucial to the survival of the injured and the ability for emergency personnel to respond.
    That was the focus of Chris St. Pierre’s Hands-On-Hub presentation, “Stayin’ Alive: First Response,” at the Professional Dairy Producers’ annual business conference March 17 at Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
    “One of the first things that happens in the event of a workplace or on-farm emergency would be to place a call for emergency help,” St. Pierre said. “If you are the owner or you live at the farm, you probably know the address. But, do all of your workers know the exact address? Do all of them speak English well enough to communicate with the dispatch? There are a lot of different considerations, so developing a plan and having it in place is important.”
    St. Pierre recommended having a trauma kit available and providing easy-to-access information about the workplace, including the location and numbers to call. According to St. Pierre, just as important as providing these tools is to provide adequate training to workers on the dairy farm.
    “What is important is to train and develop that safety plan,” St. Pierre said. “If you continuously train, you are much more proactively prepared if an emergency should occur.”
    If possible, St. Pierre recommended establishing an on-site emergency response team of those willing and able to take the lead in the event of an emergency. Each member of the team should be aware of what needs to be done and what role they play in the response.
    A safety plan should include detailed information, such as adequate directions. If possible, St. Pierre recommended sending a flagger to the road to connect with and escort emergency personnel to the scene as quickly as possible.
    One way to help emergency personnel with reference points is to letter buildings and number exterior doors sequentially. Inviting emergency response personnel to your farm for training and planning is another way to help save valuable minutes in the event of an emergency.
    “They can put a pre-plan of their own in place, so they know exactly where to respond when you say ‘Entrance No. 2’ or refer to the ‘North entrance.’ That can be a huge help, just being proactive and planning on the front end,” St. Pierre said.
    Once you have established a plan for contacting and assisting emergency personnel to the locations on your farm, the next step in an emergency response plan is to be prepared to provide assistance to the victim, as is appropriate.
    “If you can be able to provide significant trauma and bleeding control while waiting for first responders to arrive, those are vital minutes,” St. Pierre said. “If you have a plan in place and the equipment that is necessary to provide some of that initial first aid and care, then you are way ahead of the game for yourself and your employees.”
    Injuries are categorized as traumatic or medical, according to St. Pierre. A traumatic injury would include farm-related accident injuries, while medical injuries could be something such as a cardiac arrest. He said medical injuries can cause traumatic injuries and vice versa. In addition to those types of emergencies, there are also emergencies that would require specialized teams to respond, including those happening in confined spaces, elevated rescues or those with other hazardous conditions and materials.
    When attempting to care for the injured, St. Pierre cautioned you must ensure it is safe to approach the area the victim is in, taking care to look for any hazards that might cause you harm.
    “If you get hurt trying to help now there are two injuries, and you could potentially overwhelm the emergency response services that are in your area,” St. Pierre said. “If it is not safe, as difficult as it might be, the best thing for you to do is to step back and not do anything until the emergency response team arrives.”
    Once you have assessed the scene to ensure your own safety, the next step is to assess the patient’s situation. St. Pierre recommended anyone who might serve on your farm’s on-site response team attend CPR certification training.
    St. Pierre demonstrated some items that might be included in a trauma response kit, including masks with one-way valves for rescue breathing, different types of bandaging, chest seals, splints, plastic wrap, instant ice or warm packs, blankets and a tourniquet. He suggested dairy farmers look into the feasibility of purchasing an automated external defibrillator to have on the premises.
    St. Pierre noted that one challenge in particular that may face dairy producers is getting family members and long-time employees to embrace newly implemented safety protocols, such as the use of personal protective equipment like safety glasses, gloves, hearing protection and highly visible clothing.
    “Having them involved in your safety meetings and including them in the transition if you are just beginning to use PPE on a regular or mandatory basis is really important for getting them to buy in,” St. Pierre said. “If you have the owners and the veteran employees wearing PPE and following the safety protocols, it is much more natural for newer employees to follow suit. With consistent and regular training, you can make them understand how important safety measures are.”