Rope Rescue | High Angle Rescues

One cooperative’s high angle bin rescue teams are now a resource for local fire departments in rural america.

Farmers are farming more land, harvesting more grain, and are needing larger and more bins for storage. However, with more growth and more grain, you tend to gain another thing: more risk. Bigger bins with more grain provide a greater risk for grain bin entrapments.

Grain entrapment, or grain engulfment, is when a person becomes submerged in grain and cannot free themselves without assistance. According to 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities – Agricultural Safety and Health Program Purdue University, 18.33 billion bushels of corn and beans were stored on the farm in 2020 and of all the grain entrapments, 57% ended in fatalities. Those increased numbers where the driving spark for the Director of Safety at Central Valley Ag in creating the co-op’s very own Rope Rescue Team.


The Central Valley Ag Technical Rescue Teams were started under the direction of Brad Bousquet, Director of Safety. There was a need for a specialized team with the ability to mitigate High Angle, Confined Space and Bin Rescue. The original thought was to be a tool for CVA alone with the main purpose being employee safety. The teams were developed as a precaution in case of an emergency in a below grade area or at a large height; such as a grain elevator. Those type of rescues would required high angle/confined space rescue experts.

CVA’s Rope Rescue team trains with local fire department near Randolph, Nebraska.

However, with the strict safety rules enforced by the co-op, chances of needing bin rescue within CVA remained very small. As the teams evolved and became more skilled, word got out that CVA had this resource and local Fire Departments began requesting their services. While the Technical Rescue Teams are not on 911 run cards, they have proven to be great assistance in bin entrapments and other rescue calls. CVA rescue teams must be contacted by local first responders to attend rescue calls.

CVA’s Steve Wangler became the Lead for the Teams in 2017, and continues to be the administrator, while Chip Kruse, CVA’s Rescue Training Lead, took over the responsibilities as Lead Instructor in 2022. There are currently 5 regionally located Central Valley Ag
Technical Rescue Teams:

  • Team 1 in Royal, Neb.
  • Team 2 in Oakland, Neb.
  • Team 3 in Humphrey, Neb.
  • Team 4 in Utica, Neb., and
  • Team 5 in Beloit, Kan.

There are approximately 50 members of CVA’s Rope Rescue Team. In 2022 alone, the teams have conducted 180 hours of training in the first three quarters. In the past three years, the teams have been requested for assistance with Bin / Silo Rescue 8 times, with 6 Rescues and 2 Recoveries.

One of these rescues was of Steve Marsh. Steve was working in a grain bin when he felt the grain move below him and he became entrapped in the grain. This happened within 5 seconds; from feeling the beans move out from under to him being submerged up to his waist. “I couldn’t move. If I wiggled it got tighter; I couldn’t go anywhere,” said Marsh. The auger was turned on while Marsh was still in the bin; this caused the movement of beans and caused him to fall in. Steve was thankful for the expertise of the Rescue Team which allowed him to be removed from the grain bin safely and efficiently.

Watch all of Steve’s story here.

“The Central Valley Ag Technical Rescue Team is committed to providing professional Technical Rescue for its employees and the surrounding areas. In the future we will continue to provide our skills and services when and where they are needed. In this low frequency, high risk environment, CVA Technical Rescue Teams are committed to continue to evolve and be a viable resource for rural America.”

Chip Kruse, CVA Technical Rescue Teams Lead Instructor

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