BIN THERE, DONE THAT
His blood pressure increased well above normal, but Rick Bot otherwise escaped unscathed from a potentially disastrous farm incident on Feb. 15.
Bot was loading out beans on his brother Ben's farm 10 miles northeast of Minneota and 10 miles west of Cottonwood. He had climbed down inside a 24-foot grain bin to break apart beans that had formed into frozen clumps so they could go through the auger.
"I was using a long-handled spade with a 9- or 10-foot handle to break up the beans," he said.
When a large chunk was broken up, the auger drew the beans in faster than Bot anticipated and in a matter of moments he was drawn to the bottom of the bin and stood waist deep in beans. Bot was in no danger of getting his feet caught in the auger as there is a guard on top of it, but he was unable to pull himself free beans in order to climb back up the ladder inside the bin.
At 3:56 p.m., Bot pulled out his cell phone and called his brother who was just outside the bin.
"Ben shut off the auger and climbed up the bin and looked down through the top and saw I was waist deep and couldn't get out," Bot told. "We really didn't have anything that would work to try and pull me out because I was stuck in there pretty good, so I told Ben to call 911."
Because Ben's farm is in Vallers Township, the call went out to the Cottonwood Fire Department and EMT personnel.
The first man on the scene was a farm neighbor, who was also a member of the Cottonwood Fire Department. He lowered a ratchet strap down to Bot, who hooked it under his shoulders. But that maneuver didn't work as Bot was wedged in too tight.
Once the other firemen arrived around 4:15 p.m., they lowered six to eight panels that were approximately 18" x 2' down into the bin that are designed for these types of accidents in grain bins. The panels form a circle around the trapped person, while also forming a wall to keep the beans outside the panels from converging on the person. A pail was then lowered down to Bot.
Several firemen then positioned themselves at various heights on the ladder inside the bin. Bot would then fill the bucket with beans inside the circular panels and hand it to the first man on the assembly line and eventually brought to the top and dumped. Bot repeated the process several times until the beans were below his knees.
A tie-strap was then sent down and Bot squatted down in a sitting position and hooked the strap under his knees.
"The rescue workers were able to pull me out that way and I was able to climb up the ladder to get out," Bot explained.
When Bot emerged out of the top of the bin to begin his descent back down on the outside ladder, the time was 5:06 p.m. All told, he was inside the bin for well over an hour.
"My feet started getting cold because of the frozen beans," he said. "I wasn't in there that long, but the mold dust was starting to get to me because I didn't have a mask on."
Because Rick's wife, Ruth, was planning to go to Sioux Falls that day, Rick figured she wasn't home. Similar to a phone tree, Ben notified his wife, Jan, who then called Rick's daughter, Carolyn, who then called her mother, who had not yet left for Sioux Falls.
"Everyone knew about it before I did," Ruth laughed. "When I got there around 4:15, there were fire trucks, ambulances, pickup trucks and people standing all around the bin.
"It was scary, but I knew Rick was in good hands when I watched the Cottonwood Firemen and First Responders at work. They really knew what they were doing. We are grateful and blessed for the wonderful support Rick was given by those men and women."
The Cottonwood Fire Department personnel had never used the panels before in an actual emergency. They had only practiced with them one time before in an empty bin.
"They really did a great job," Rick said. "Farming is a dangerous job and we are fortunate to have their help."
Rick's vitals were checked by First Responders in the ambulance, and his blood pressure was initially 188/108.
Other than being a little chilled, Rick came out okay. His blood pressure eventually went back to his normal 120/74.
"Praise the lord," Ruth said. "He had an eye on us."