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Bulletin #2322, First Response to Farm Accidents

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farmMaine Farm Safety Program

First Response to Farm Accidents

By Dawna L. Cyr, farm safety project assistant, and Steven B. Johnson, Ph.D., Extension crops specialist

For information about UMaine Extension programs and resources, visit extension.umaine.edu.
Find more of our publications and books at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu.

Accidents happen anywhere and anytime. The first response to an accident is the most important. The right response to an accident is more important than an immediate, incorrect one. Often times, first aid given at the scene can improve the chance of survival and a good recovery of the accident victim. The sooner the victim receives advanced medical care, the better.

  • Stay calm at an accident scene.
  • Shut off equipment and remove other potential hazards at an accident scene.
  • Know how to respond to accidents where a limb is severed.

When approaching the accident scene, assess the apparent injury to the victim as well as the potential danger to yourself and the victim. Your safety must be the primary concern. You are needed to go for help, and rescuers do not need more victims to care for.

Ten Steps at an Accident

  1. Don’t panic. Stay calm and do the right things. You can help the victim by doing a few basic first aid steps.
  2. Remove additional hazards. Shut off the equipment and remove any other hazards. Shout for help, but don’t wait for a response.
  3. Check airway. Is the victim breathing? Ask if they’re OK. Ask for a deep breath.
  4. Check breathing. If no verbal response is given, and the victim is not breathing, check mouth and throat for blockage. If this does not help, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If victim can respond, ask “Where do you hurt? Does your neck hurt?”
  5. Check circulation. Expect a lot of blood in some injuries. Direct your attention to the major source of injury.
  6. Control bleeding. If the injured part is not entrapped in equipment and is vigorously bleeding, immediately apply a tight pressure bandage and a splint.
  7. Check spine. Check for signs of back injury, such as back pain, paralysis or position.
  8. Splint any fracture. If the injured part is not entrapped in equipment and is not vigorously bleeding, apply a bandage and an air splint to control bleeding.
  9. Get help. If you discover the accident away from immediate help, assist the victim first and them obtain help. Phone or radio a neighbor and have the neighbor contact others for help. Be sure to report the exact location of the accident. Return to the victim.
  10. Transportation. If the victim must be moved to reach medical help, special precautions must be taken. This is especially true if you suspect: a neck or back injury; multiple injuries; or upper leg injuries. Support the victim preferably on something flat. Do not change the person’s position, especially in a back or neck injury. Tie the victim in place to prevent any movement and proceed cautiously.

What the Rescue Unit Needs to Know

When calling emergency personnel for help, there are several things they need to know. When calling, give the following information. Never hang up the phone until the dispatcher/operator tells you to!

  1. Precise location of accident scene.
  2. Telephone number from which the call is made.
  3. The nature of the accident (tractor overturn, auger, etc.).
  4. Number of victims.
  5. Condition of victims (bleeding, heart attack, etc.).
  6. Type of aid that has been given (CPR, bandaging, etc.).
  7. Whether someone will meet emergency staff at the entrance to a remote location.
  8. Any special conditions that may hinder rescue efforts.

Saving Life and Limb

Safety on the job helps to prevent limb loss, but accidents do happen. Not every severed body part can be successfully reattached. If the severed part is recovered and properly handled, the success rate ranges from 80 to 95 percent for successful reattachment and functional use.

  1. Recover the severed part. If it has to be retrieved from inside the equipment, transport the victim as soon as possible without it. Another emergency vehicle can bring amputated parts after they are retrieved.
  2. Rinse the severed part in clean water.
  3. Wet a towel in water and wring to moist, but not dripping. Wrap severed part in the towel, making sure it is completely covered.
  4. Place the towel-wrapped part in a clean plastic bag and seal the bag. If a plastic bag is not available, cover the towel completely with plastic wrap.
  5. Cool the severed part with ice. Do not place it in a freezer, since tissue could be damaged by frostbite.
  6. Be sure that everyone involved, including emergency vehicle personnel, hospital admitting staff, doctors and nurses, knows the severed part is with the victim or will arrive soon.

This Maine Farm Safety fact sheet is part of an educational fact sheet series produced by University of Maine Cooperative Extension. For more information on farm safety, contact your UMaine Extension county office.


Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2003

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