Farm Event Gives Rural Health Care Students Hands On Experience

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Rural doctors are on the front lines, trying to save farm workers hurt on the job. That’s why local future physicians got a worst case scenario look at how dangerous farming can be.

All hands on deck for a tipped over tractor trapping someone under. But in this case, it’s just a dummy. Firefighters demonstrated to University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford students the dangers farmers face. Dozens of them watched the rescue unfold during the annual “No Harm on the Farm” tour.

“They’re going to get such an understanding and appreciation for what is out here in the agricultural field,” said Stateline Farm Rescue Coordinator Mark Baker.

These students one day will treat real farmers caught up in situations like the ones demonstrated Friday. One organizer says having that first-hand knowledge will make them better health professionals.

“They have a better understanding when they come into their clinic or their office,” said UIC College of Medicine at Rockford Rural Medical Education Program Assistant Director of Recruitment & Public Relations Mark Meurer. “[They have a better understanding of] possibly the injuries that have happened, different health things they have been exposed to.”

Agriculture is a big part of the Stateline economy. Baker says it’s important that if an accident like this happens, the people who treat them have to be prepared. “The loss of one farmer in our area is.. it’s just a horrible thought of losing.  Nobody wants to do this job.  It’s a hard job to do.”

Grain bins can be a dangerous place to work too. Some students put on a safety harness, just like a real first responder, and went in to see what it would take to perform a rescue. Organizers say these are things you can’t learn from a textbook.

“It’s a way for us to show them the daily living environment our farmers live in every day and things they go through on a daily basis,” said Meurer.

He hopes this event ensures a better future for rural health care. “We’ve been doing this for quite a while and hopefully making an impact on our health system in rural Illinois.”

This is the 11th year the event takes place.

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