By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
It’s harvest time once again in Lethbridge County, southern Alberta and throughout the province.
Safety is one of the most important aspects of the equation when it comes to bringing home the harvest each and every year.
Ag for Life is a not for profit organization dedicated to building a greater understanding and appreciation of agriculture and its fundamental connection to life.
Ag for Life wants to spread the word to keep southern Alberta agricultural families safe — all year, through its programs and awareness campaigns.
One program Ag for Life offers to southern Albertans is the Rural Farmedic Program.
“First responders from the area and region participate in this program. It teaches them and gives them opportunity to understand how best to approach a farm incident involving farm machinery, some of the critical things to keep in mind when dealing with farm machinery extractions, and how to deal with PTOs and augers. On the second day, they actually take that theory they learn and they get the chance to practice it. We bring in a number of pieces of old equipment, so they get to cut open our augers and they work through different scenarios with the trainer,” said Kaley Segboer, Ag for Life marketing and communications co-ordinator.
First responders and volunteer firefighters, Segboer added, get experience dealing with vehicle run overs and vehicle crashes.
“But farm equipment, they don’t get the opportunity and they have some very unique challenges,” Segboer said.
Ag for Life, Segboer noted, is always looking for fire departments or counties looking for the Rural Farmedic Program and similar training.
“They can contact us and we can actually set it up with them for their area,” she said.
Ag for Life has supported several rural Farmedic training programs for rural first responders across Alberta including seminars in Vauxhall and Brooks. The next Rural First Responders Training Program is scheduled for Oct. 28-29 in Brooks.
Coming soon in Taber, Segboer said, training will be provided for high school students in the area with the Young Farm Workers Program.
“It’s giving them the opportunity to participate in hands-on training sessions throughout the day. The training sessions cover a variety of topics like personal protective equipment and hazard assessments when they’re doing different jobs. They also participate in utilizing fire extinguishers. We’re delivering that program on Oct. 15 in Taber. We’re doing that in partnership with Lethbridge College and the Alberta government,” said Segboer.
According to Segboer, this is a very good course for students interested in the Green Certificate Program because students actually earn a prerequisite credit for the program. The program focuses on skills students can use on their family farms or if they’re going to work on a farm or for an agricultural employer.
The Young Farm Workers Safety Training Workshop is for Grade 10-12 students. Students can earn AGR3000 credit, the prerequisite course for the Green Certificate Program.
Sessions include hazard assessment and control, fire safety, electrical safety, confined spaces, personal protective equipment and emergency response planning. The cost for participation for non-green certificate students is $20 and free to green certificate students. To ensure a spot in the workshop register today. Visit agricultureforlife.ca/young-farm-worker-safety-workshop for more information.
Ag for Life also works with producers and Alberta Health Services (AHS) in schools within the southern Alberta region to support rural farm safety programs for elementary students.
“We really focus on delivering a lot of our farm safety programs throughout September and October. That being because this time of year is when we see the highest rate of incidents,” she noted.
Last year, Ag for Life’s rural and farm safety programs reached over 25,700 children and youth in over 37 different communities. The safety events take place in schools or other community locations with an interactive line-up of simulators, activities and demonstrations for students to work through.
Participants explore a wide-range of safety topics including large equipment, chemical, animal, water, powerline, pipeline, sun safety and much more. Both Iron Springs and Coaldale communities are working with Ag for Life to host rural and farm safety events for local youth.
Segboer would also like to remind farm producers in southern Alberta to take a moment to assess any risks on local farms.
“Preventative is a lot better than having to deal with the aftermath of a farm incident.”