The RFDASH training, which stands for Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health, provides farm safety tools and knowledge to rural emergency responders with farm-specific first aid curriculum, safety consultation capabilities, and farm hazard mapping strategies to assist in emergency responses to farms. The overall goal is to improve farmers’ access to capable health and safety consultation, thereby reducing farm hazards and improving farm safety. To date, the team has trained over two dozen trainers in the Upper Midwest. The upcoming training in New York will train approximately 15 more.
This one-day training consists of four curriculum modules. First is an Introduction to Ag Emergencies, which introduces farm hazards and why this work is necessary (agricultural work is one of the most dangerous U.S. occupations). Next, emergency responders learn to utilize two specific farm safety tools that assist in emergency preparedness and hazard analysis, NFMCfarmMAPPER.com and SaferFarm.org
Farm MAPPER is a free interactive web tool that provides emergency responders onsite information about hazards and physical layouts of agricultural operations. The tool aims to make responding to emergencies on farms safer for emergency responders.
SaferFarm.org is a tool for providing first-hand information about evaluating and correcting hazards in agricultural environments. This means the firefighter can identify hazards, rate its severity with reference pictures as guides, and offer remediation strategies to a farmer. The RFDASH model trains firefighters to use this tool and preform third party, no-penalty safety consultations on farms.
The last RFDASH module covers Farm First Aid, which teaches responders to explicitly deploy first aid skills within scenarios recognizable to the farming community.
“Farmers trust rural fire and EMS. This is a programmatic effort to move emergency responders passed response and recovery, moving them into prevention. We’re very excited that these New York State firefighters thought enough of our program to bring us here and support the expansion of the effort,” says Project principle investigator, Casper Bendixsen, PhD.
Coordinated with assistance from the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), this will be the first RFDASH training to be provided in New York State. Members of the Elbridge Fire Department will be hosting and participating in this training.
The RFDASH program is funded by CDCNIOSH as a part of the Upper Midwest Ag Safety and Health Center. For more information, visit: http://umash.umn.edu/portfolio/rural-firefighters-delivering-agricultural-safety-and-health-rf-dash/
Bendixsen also added that, “We’re also excited to explore innovative applications of emerging technologies in safety. A paralleled effort at the NFMC developed an augmented reality prototype version of Farm MAPPER, which we’re beginning to test with firefighters as part of this project.” A recent article about the app’s development of heads up displays via augmented reality are described here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1059924X.2018.1470051