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'Great Wall of Rescue': Bozeman Fire gets new gear after grain elevator rescue

Posted at 7:13 AM, Jun 26, 2024

BOZEMAN — If you were ever in a situation where you were stuck neck deep in grain, well, I have some good news: Bozeman Fire has a new device called The Great Wall of Rescue.

“When we arrived, we sent a couple members in there and just confirmed the situation. And from there it became clear that we weren't going to be able to just do a normal raise operation,” says Connor Haworth, a firefighter paramedic with Bozeman Fire.

You may recall this incident back in March, where a person was trapped in a grain elevator outside of Manhattan. Bozeman Fire’s Tech Rescue Team, along with Amsterdam Rural Fire and Central Valley Fire District all responded to the call. Connor Haworth was on scene that day.

“Every time you were trying to make sudden movements, or move a lot of grain all of a sudden, the grain that was above us in the slope would just kind of fall back and incircle the patient and bury them a bit more”.

Connor tells me, grain acts like quicksand and is a tricky substance to be rescued from. Rescue teams usually need special tools in these situations.

“We got on scene and realized we didn't have everything with us that we needed to save this patient that was trapped inside,” says Josh Charles.

Charles is a Captain at Bozeman Fire. He told me their Tech Rescue team, along with local ranchers and other helping hands were able to makeshift a Great Wall Of Rescue.

A device that, “we can shove it down into the grain and it stops the grain from continuing to entrap the victim that may be in the silo”.

You can see the makeshift Great Wall Of Rescue in action in a video posted on Bozeman Fire’s Facebook page. But that post resulted in more than just a couple of likes.

“The Scoular corporation who runs the grain elevators in Logan called us, and said, ‘Hey do you guys have what you need on that last call to safely do a rescue?’ and we told them we didn't,” says Captain Charles.

Scoular is a global grain transport company. They donated $5,000 to Bozeman Fire to be used towards purchasing an official Great Wall of Rescue system and other tools.

The March rescue took around six hours to extract the person from the grain silo. Captain Charles tells me with this new system, “It’s going to go from us showing up on scene and having to do a makeshift rescue wall, to be able to deploy some equipment that's going to give us minutes. And we’ll have a safety zone around the patient in there. And also a safety zone for our workers to be in the grain”.