Thread: Farm Tractor Overturns
02-09-1999, 09:40 AM #1billyFirehouse.com Guest
Farm Tractor Overturns
Farm tractor accidents result in a large number of fatalities each year, many of which could be prevented. My focus is on rescue, and I will suggest one method for victim removal from an inverted tractor.
Typically the victim is pinned to the ground by the seat and steering column, simply due the speed in which an overturn occurs (1.5 seconds).
First, scene safety is important. Hazards such as fuel, coolant, electrolyte, and hydraulic fluid spills must be dealt with. Running tractors should be shut down (another post). Family members and bystanders should be respectfully and tactfully dealt with.
Tractor stabilization should occur quickly. Usually this is done with buttress cribbs, comealongs, cables, and winches. Don't forget the use of wreckers! Obviously tractors are very unstable while inverted, and even ballast in the tires can cause quick movement.
Primarily I wish to suggest that low pressure air bags can be used under each rear wheel to lift the tractor. Make certain to "lock" the rear wheels to prevent turning. These bags conform well to irregular shapes (tires), and provide necessary height to the lifting process. Side-to-side movement must be anticipated, and prevented. This operation seems to work well in most instances, however not all. There are other methods. Any suggestions?
Go out and practice this technique. Let me know what you find out.
02-09-1999, 06:06 PM #2e33Firehouse.com Guest
Just Reserving my space now....until i get a chance to reply, check out march 1998 Firehouse magazine for a farm tractor accident my dept handled.
Farm accidents pose a unique challenge to rescuers every day. The sad fact, though, is that many rescue and fire agencies are not prepared to handle these types of emergencies even though they may even be activley involved in farming themselves. Farms may seem very simple and a common everyday sight, but behind the scenes, they pose some of the greatest threats to rescuers. Everything from oxygen limiting silos to heavy machinery and PTO powered implements. Rescue operations in farm areas and buildings are often a nightmare due to limited access, old and antiquated machinery and structures as well as known and unknown hazardous materials and atmospheres.
Tractor rollovers are a frequent happening. They range from the unreported rollover where the farmer rights the tractor on his own, to the rollover which claims a farmer and his son....and nobody knows until he is long overdue. The field of agricultural rescue is a very up and coming specialty. The Farmedic program is a nationwide program which is based at Alfred State College in upstate New York. They have been very successful in educating emergency services providers about farms, farm machinery, silos and other farm hazards and safe and effective ways to handle emergencies involving them.
Tractor rollovers specifically require a great deal of care in handling since by nature, tractors are oddly shaped. It is important to first understand why tractors roll over. It is usually due to an operator misjudgement. Understanding center of gravity is crucial. A tractor which is narrow and tall, such as a "tricycle" tractor (with the single front wheel) is more likely to roll than a tractor with dual flotation tires. Some tractors have calcium filled tires to provide ballast. This is also an important thing to remember since the weight of a lone air filled tractor tire is enough to kill a person....think about a calcium filled tire. This is also an important consideration if you decide to initiate a lifting operation.
Approach should include a careful size up--(pesticide/haz-mat, type of tractor, number of victims,terrain,accessibility...etc). It is critical to first stabilize the machinery once the hazards have been mitigated. Now that it is time to stabliize, there are a few ways to go about it. You must have cribbing to begin with. No rescue truck should be scant with cribbing. i have found 24" 4x4 pine to work well. If you throw a bunch of different sized pieces of wood you will never be able to build a box crib. Have alot of wood! Hi-lift jacks work ok sometimes...but you need to back them up with cribbing. Rember your center of gravity here. To stabilize the rear wheels, you can try using heavy duty ratchet straps. Wrap the wheel on opposite sides and loop the strap back to a frame or opposite axle. Tighten it down and this usually works well. You can also use chain or wire come-a-longs in a similar manner.
To handle the stabilization of tractors on slopes and embankments, winches and chains may be used...but be careful to calculate the load you are trying to harness. Picketts driven into the ground may provide a good first line anchor point for small loads, or a good back up for larger ones. The use of heavy duty tow trucks is also an option. For overturns and tractors on their sides, buttress cribbing and air struts (manually operated without air) work well. See the forum on vehicle stabilization for cars on their sides.
For many farm incidents you can generally toss your hydraulic tools away. Metals are stronger and quick to defeat hydraulic tools. Practice has proven that air chisels, slice pack cutting torches, sawzalls, small wizzer saws and other industrial type tools to be more effective in most instances. True that there may still be a place for them, but not as in vehicle rescue.
Lifting operations can be commenced once you have stabilized. It is crucial to have good stabilization before you begin to move any components. Prior to any lifting, consider digging down under the patient so as not to get into a complex operation. sometimes you need only an inch or two, and dont need the height that airbags provide. Now that you have safed the scene,and determined you have to lift, you can proceed to remove the pinned operator.
*Levers: a simple and ancient way to lift an object. Risks personal injury and is not very smooth sometimes.
*Hi-Lift Jacks: Another simple device. Offers a few attachments to extend its capabilities. While called a hi-lift jack, it is very unstable once it is at about its halfway point. Easy to use if in remote locations and if small amount of space is all that is needed.
*Bottle Jacks: Offers less height but more weight capacity. Fits in smaller spaces and is able to lift slowly and smoothly.
*Hydraulic Spreaders: A valid option if a quick lift is needed. While not specifically designed for this task, will work in most instances as long as you dont try to lift too much weight.
*Hi-Pressure Bags: Probably the best solution for lifting. Offers the capacities and smooth control that is often needed. The pair of bags lifting the rear tire similar to a pipe is usually the best method.
*Low Pressure Bags: may work, but unless you use the bags in tandem, or use large bags, they often do not have the lifting capacity. Good tor conforming to odd shapes and curves though.
*Winches/Wreckers: If you have to use them, make sure the operator understands the mission is to move as little as possible to free the patient. They are a still a valid option.
Remember that anytime you lift an object you must crib it. "lift an inch crib an inch." Never rely on a tools capacity as an assurance that it wont fail. Back things up with cribbing! Thats why it is critical to carry alot of wood.
Thats it!....Hope i didnt carry on too long. Work safe.
[This message has been edited by e33 (edited 02-10-99).]
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