- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

COLUSA, Ill. (AP) - When Terry Pope walked out of his farm shop that Monday afternoon, he knew immediately that something wasn’t right.

He saw what looked like smoke coming from “the corner,” the nearby intersection of County Roads 1700 East and 2300 North.

“If I hadn’t seen smoke, I never would have gone down there,” he said. “There shouldn’t be smoke there. This is unusual.”

Thinking a neighbor had caught something on fire, perhaps while mowing, he started that way to help. What he found was an accident scene where a Nauvoo-Colusa school bus failed to yield and pulled into the path of a Jeep. He and others quickly responded to help rescue the Jeep’s driver who was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat.

“I have to admit, I didn’t think a lot about what I was doing. I reacted to the situation,” Pope said. “The good Lord gave me the ability to make the right decision, and thankfully we saved a life. The good Lord had the right people in the right spot at the right time.”



Being safety conscious is key on the farm, and in rural communities, especially as National Farm Safety and Health Week kicks off Sunday with the reminder that “ag safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle.”

The week, marked each year since 1944, promotes safe and healthy practices on farms and ranches across the U.S. and in neighboring countries as producers enter the harvest season and continue working on the farm throughout the year.

“In one of the most accident-prone industries, it’s good to always be prepared,” Pope said.

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicates farming accounted for 500 fatalities, or 23.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, in 2013. Illinois reported 14 farm-related deaths, including seven due to tractor rollovers, from July 1, 2014 through June 30.

At the Aug. 31 accident scene, Pope saw the bus driver, Steve Halsted, had the kids off the bus and was heading to the Jeep, which had white smoke curling out from under the hood, with a fire extinguisher. After checking to make sure that a 911 call had been made, Pope headed back home, grabbed two fire extinguishers from his combine and went back to fight the fire. He also called for reinforcements from the nearby Chem Gro grain and fertilizer facility in Adrian, asking for people and fire extinguishers before starting to figure out how to get Carrie Scheetz, a long-time family friend, out of the Jeep.

“I knew if I called Chem Gro, I could get somebody to come. Had I been close to Colusa, I would call Colusa Elevator and get somebody to come. Maybe it’s a neighbor. Maybe it’s a business,” he said. “When time is of the essence and emergency service is coming, a neighbor or a business can get there faster.”

Pope, Halsted and Chem Gro employees got the window out of the Jeep, then using Pope’s log chains, pulled the door far enough open to get Scheetz out and away from the scene. She was airlifted to Blessing Hospital and onto Memorial Hospital in Springfield. Back home now, she continues to recover from her injuries.

Scheetz “is definitely lucky she got out of the vehicle before she burned up,” said Carthage Fire Chief Eric Shuman on the night of the accident. “Good Samaritans are few and far between. She’s got somebody looking over her shoulder.”

Pope downplays his role in the rescue, emphasizing that several people were involved and saying what they did was common rural communities where emergency services may be miles away.

“We just watch out for each other. That’s the key. Don’t get so involved that you don’t look around,” Pope said. “Just be aware. If something doesn’t look right, check it out.”

SAFETY SUGGESTIONS

Terry Pope offers suggestions to help people remember “ag safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle” during National Farm Safety and Health Week and throughout the year.

Be aware of your surroundings and anything unusual.

Don’t panic. Try to stay calm and assess the situation.

Know your location so that the nearest emergency service providers can respond.

Know emergency numbers.

“We all know 911, but if a rural area doesn’t have 911, do we know what the fire station number is, sheriff’s number,” Pope said. “I’ve got all of the programmed in my phone, so if we need them, we can call.”

Know who to call for help — a neighbor, a nearby business — that may be closer than emergency responders.

Think ahead about possible scenarios and how to respond. Pre-think possible scenarios.

“What would I do if I came up on a school bus accident or if the combine caught on fire?” Pope said. “What that does is instead of getting in a panic and having to think about something, you start thinking on instinct.”

Know where to find emergency equipment like fire extinguishers. Every combine has fire extinguishers along with a lot of trucks, and Pope keeps other emergency equipment handy. “I always have log chains in my truck,” he said.

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Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://bit.ly/1gFIT2H

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com

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