Emergency response to on-farm emergency situations has taken a step forward with a new web tool called Farm MAPPER.
Developed by the National Farm Medicine Center, the pilot project is being carried out by the Pittsville, Wis., Fire Department.
Unlike industrial and public buildings, hazards on individual farms are not known by emergency personnel. Jerry Minor is chief of the Pittsville Fire Department.
"Years ago a lot of fire department members, especially in the volunteer service, came from the farming community," Minor said. "That's not the case anymore."
Farm MAPPER allows farmers and emergency responders identify the hazards and safety features of their farms before the fire department arrives.
"We need to identify where do we shut off the power?" Minor said. "What's in the building is one of the other things that needs to be determined. Do we have livestock in there? Is this a building that has livestock in it? It's nice to know that ahead of time."
A QR code is scanned by firefighters as they arrive on the scene. It's linked to a password-protected interactive website where the farm's details remain secure and cannot be shared.
Dr. Matthew Keifer, director of the National Farm Medicine Center at the Marshfield Clinic, says they've built on the farm mapping work done by Purdue, Penn State and the University of Illinois.
"The one major advantage to the process that we've done is connecting it through electronic media and securitizing the information in a way that the farmer can feel confident that only the emergency responder and the farmer will have access to it," Keifer said.
He says they are testing the program for future applications in extracting people caught in machinery accidents and for supplying safety training information to migrant workers in their spoken languages.