By Brian Russell
For the past two years, the Farmer City (Ill.) Fire Protection District has obtained grant money through the Monsanto Fund to purchase updated equipment. In 2013, the fire department received a $20,000 grant, which it used to purchase new ropes, pulleys, carabineers, and stoke baskets.
As it turned out, the grant also helped saved a life.
In November 2013, a worker at a grain elevator in Farmer City passed out because of low oxygen levels where he was working, two stories below ground.
“He was in a tough spot,” said Sean Halcomb, seed technician II and volunteer firefighter in Farmer City. “We needed to get him out of there and to a hospital in a hurry.”
As it so happened, the equipment purchased with the grant from the Monsanto Fund had arrived only days before and would be facing its first test right away.
“I didn’t even realize we had the equipment yet,” Halcomb said. “When the pager went off, I grabbed our old equipment and when I got to the scene, one of the other guys had brought the new equipment purchased with the grant. It had arrived literally days earlier. I hadn’t even had a chance to train with it yet, although some of the other guys had.”
The crew used the equipment to extricate the worker, a delicate process in tight confines. The worker was taken to the hospital and recovered, and the new equipment paid off right away.
“Sometimes I think people hear about these Monsanto Fund grants and they don’t really think about how they’re going to be used, or hear examples of the impact they have,” Halcomb said. “I just wanted to thank the people in charge of the Monsanto Fund and let everyone know that these grants go for good purposes. In this case, they helped save a life.”
The local community also valued the grant.
“We appreciate the Monsanto Fund giving us the grants and helping us out,” said Assistant Fire Chief Rick Hardesty. “The new equipment is very beneficial. It was a big deal.”