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Women stress ways to prevent farm injuries

When most people think of hazardous jobs, they might picture police officers, firefighters or some industrial factory job.

But Ellen Duysen can paint a whole different picture of a hazardous workplace:

The farm.

“Farming is the most hazardous industry in the U.S.,” said Duysen, outreach specialist for UNMC’s Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.

There are many dangers.

“A lot the equipment is inherently dangerous,” she said. “A lot of farmers work alone and the average age is about 58 years old right now.”

Farmers also do many different tasks in any given day from driving a tractor to working with hogs giving birth — all in a few hours’ time.

Tractor rollovers are the No. 1 cause of fatalities. Farmers are ejected and pinned in these types of accidents.

But Duysen cites preventative measures.

“If every farmer had ROPS — Rollover Protective Structure — and wore a seatbelt, they’d have a 98 percent chance of survival on a rollover,” she said.

Accidents such as tractor rollovers tend to make the news, but Duysen also points out chronic conditions that affect farmers such as lung disease and hearing loss.

The farming population has a high incidence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) because of exposure to grain dust, pesticides and other inhalable organic materials.

“We’d like them to find ways to get rid of the dust such as using vents and fans in their grain bins, wearing protection (masks) when cleaning grain bins or with exposure to any inhalants,” Duysen said. “We like to tell folks, ‘If you can see dust in the air, you need to have a mask.”

Linda Emanuel, a registered nurse, is part of AgriSafe, a nonprofit international company.

“Our focus is to protect farmers and ranchers and give the ability to have good access to personal protection equipment related to agriculture,” she said. “We work within the United States addressing all types of ag illnesses.”

The firm also has educational webinars and training.

Three free webinars are available during Grain Bin Safety Week — Feb. 18-24. Webinar times and dates are:

Noon, Feb. 20 — Agricultural Respiratory Hazards & Prevention Strategies, Charlotte Halverson, AgriSafe clinical director. This will cover respiratory hazards associated with agricultural exposure with an emphasis on grain handling operations.

Noon, Feb. 22 — Confined Space – Grain Bin Entry, Dan Neenan, director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety and paramedic. This is for grain industry workers and managers. This includes grain elevators, farm operators and workers, grain haulers and ag-business owners. The focus is on safety in confined space work areas including entry, respiratory protection and prevention of grain dust explosions, space entry and lock out procedures.

Noon, Feb. 23 — Respiratory Protection Program, Charlotte Halverson, AgriSafe clinical director. Training will help ag-based employers who require respirator use to comply with the OSHA respiratory protection program standard.

To register, visit

AgriSafe also has information on a variety of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators (particle-filtering masks and other protective equipment).

Respirators help prevent dusts, molds and other hazards from entering the airway and lungs. Serious diseases can result from one-time and repeated exposure to respiratory hazards.

Those in the ag industry also need to be aware of farmer’s lung, the acute form a lung disorder, Duysen said.

“It has flu-like symptoms,” she said.

Those who’ve come out of a grain bin without respiratory protection can have body aches and coughs.

Emanuel instructs producers and corporate groups.

“We’re willing to do some personal outreach and giving good information about the correct type of masks and the maintenance of them – the right mask with the right fit for the right environment,” she said.

Duysen noted that some farmers may not want to wear a mask, because they said it steams up their eye glasses.

“We can tell them that just means they’re not getting a good fit and we show them how to properly fit that mask or they don’t have the right size mask,” Duysen said. “People may not understand there are different size masks. They may feel like it’s hard to breathe against and so they have masks with valves that help. The mask manufacturers, 3M in particular, has come up with a lot of solutions to that problem with these valves.

“But what we really want to drive home is – with the cost of these, it is minimal compared to even a one-day stay in the hospital.”

Brent Wasenius / Evan Nordstrom / Fremont Tribune 

Samantha Shepard of Fremont High School goes up for a reverse layup against Columbus earlier this season. The Tigers downed Lincoln Southwest 46-39 on Friday night on the Silver Hawks' home court. 

Colin Larson / Colin Larson / Fremont Tribune  

The staff at H&R Block celebrated owner Kathy Moll’s (center) 50th year at the tax company at their offices located at 1728 N Bell Street on Tuesday.

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Man arrested for arson after allegedly lighting vehicle on fire

A Fremont man was arrested for arson after pouring gasoline onto a vehicle and proceeding to light it on fire, Fremont Police reported.

Officers were dispatched at 1:50 a.m. Friday to the 700 block of West 11th street when it was reported that somebody poured gasoline on a parked vehicle and set it on fire.

Witnesses told police they saw the suspect flee the scene in a silver-colored car described as being a Mazda.

A short time later, a FPD officer saw a car matching the description in a business parking lot located in the 400 block of West 23rd Street. The car was driven by 20-year-old Zachary T. Wanamaker, Police said.

Police said that Wanamaker ran when the officer attempted to make contact with him while he was inside of the business. A perimeter was established and Wanamaker was apprehended and taken into custody with the assistance of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office Deputy K-9 Unit.

Wanamaker was arrested and charged with third-degree domestic assault, arson and obstructing a police officer. The estimated damage occurring to the vehicle Wanamaker allegedly lit on fire was estimated at $1,600.

Police said that additional charges may be levied and that more information regarding this crime will be released when they are available.

Following his arrest, Wanamaker was transported to the Dodge County Jail’s 24-hour holding facility.

Lt. Ed Watts of the Fremont Police Department said that while infrequent, the department from time to time will investigate incidents involving fires suspected to have been intentionally started, however, a situation like the one occurring early Friday morning is out of the norm.

“We occasionally get arsons but they are generally kids setting fires in the restroom of a city park or something like that,” Watts said Friday afternoon. “It’s not very common though that we look into arson’s involving somebody’s property or a vehicle.”

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Marine Corps League assists fellow veterans, community

If you ask a Marine about their specific branch of the United States Armed Forces, one thing they will almost undoubtedly tell you is that the Marine Corps is a brotherhood.

Since 2007, the Fremont Area Marine Corps League has aimed to continue that brother- and sisterhood, through assisting fellow veterans, their families, and the community as a whole.

“Everybody falls on to hard times and it’s all a big brotherhood or sisterhood with each other, so we take care of each other,” Commandant Jason House said. “That’s the most important part.”

Recently, members of the Fremont Area Marine Corps League were able to help a fellow veteran in a position that far too many across the country seem to find themselves in.

After serving his country as a Marine, and coming back to Nebraska, Fremont resident Gerold Combs Jr. found himself without a home.

In his time of need, Combs Jr. reached out to Mark Schneck at the Dodge County Veteran’s Service Office and along with the Nebraska Department of Labor-Veterans Services and the Northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership the trio of organizations were able to find Combs Jr. a place to call home.

“They were able to find Gerold an apartment and were able to pay his first month’s rent and deposit,” House said. “Once they got him into an apartment then we came in and provided him with a bed, which he actually said was his first bed in three years. We also got him a couch and chair, a set of table and chairs, and bought him some food and a bunch of household goods to help get him going.”

On Saturday, December 23rd members of the Fremont Area Marine Corps League including House, Aaron Moser, and Jim Havelka made a trip to WalMart to purchase the items which helped furnish Combs Jr.’s new apartment just in time for Christmas.

“To come across an actual homeless veteran in Fremont is pretty rare, you don’t get too many of them, which is a good thing to not have that issue” House said. “But to be able to help when there is, is obviously a good thing. Everyone has hard times so we just do what we can to make sure people can get through that.”

The Fremont Area Marine Corps League supplied him with a new bed, pillows, table and chairs, towels, blankets, couch and chair, hat and gloves, groceries, various household items, and even a bicycle.

“He doesn’t have a car, so we at least got him a bicycle for the time being so at least he doesn’t have to walk to work,” House said. “He has a job so we are letting him doing his own thing, but we have him pretty well set up and if he ever needs anything else we’ll be there for him anyway we can.”

Along with helping Combs Jr. in his time of need, the Fremont Area Marine Corps League has provided a variety of services to area residents which include financial assistance to veterans and their families, scholarships, and over 300 coats to the Salvation Army over the past year.

“In the past year and a half we have helped 9 Marines and their families and provided over $5,000 in financial assistance to them,” House said. “We also do college scholarships and we hold a competitive scholarship which we have extended out to 8 area high schools. WE have over 10 scholarships to give out each semester, and right now we have over $7,500 worth of scholarships given out.”

The League also works with the Omaha Reserve Marine Corps Unit with their Toys for Tots program, and donated $3,000 to that as well as collects toys for the program.

The funds that provide for their financial assistance programs come from various grants as well as personal and private donations.

“We bought 301 coats for Salvation Army, we have paid mortgages, and utilities and it just feels really good to be able to help people with that,” House said.