Young farmers to sponsor Farm Safety Day`

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By John Barnhart

    Bedford County Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers will hold a Farm Safety Day at the Bedford Southern States on Independence Boulevard on July 6 from 11a.m. until 2 p.m. The safety day will go ahead, rain or shine, as most of it is under tents.

    The program is being spearheaded by Amy Johnson whose husband, W. P. Johnson, heads up the Young Farmer’s Group. Amy Johnson will complete her work at Radford University for her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in August. W. P. raises wheat, hay and soybeans on a farm in the Chamblissburg area that has been in his family since 1914.
    Like her husband, Amy Johnson grew up on a farm that her father and grandfather farmed.
     She’s aware, from both experience and education, of the hazards of farming. Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree in nursing, while serving on a rescue squad in the Radford area, she responded to a farm accident in which a former classmate was killed. He had been trapped between two pieces of machinery for hours before anybody found him and called 911. The length of time he had been trapped was why he died. Johnson noted that farmers often work alone, and in locations with poor cell phone reception. She said that farming is the second most dangerous occupation in America, coming in behind mining, which ranks first.
    One feature of the safety day will be a demonstration of the need to have a lot of respect for the power take-off (PTO) on a tractor. Johnson said that the PTO can wrap a rope around itself nine times in a second. It takes a person, who gets an item of clothing caught in it, two or three seconds to react. They are going to use a dummy to demonstrate how quickly a PTO can grab a person. There will also be other safety demonstrations.
    There will also be information on hearing and eye and respiratory protection. Johnson said that breathing agricultural dust can contain bacteria and mold spores. It can also contain chemicals if the farmer is spraying crops or spreading fertilizer.
    There will be information on protecting yourself from sun exposure. Johnson said that skin cancer is the most common cancer among farmers because they spend so much time out in the sun.
    The day will address other health issues. The health department will offer tetanus shots from 10 a.m. to noon. Johnson said that it’s important for a farmer to keep his tetanus vaccinations up to date because of the opportunities for getting jabbed while doing farm work by rusty objects. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that lives in soil.
    There will also be a diabetes screening and blood pressure screening, provided by East Lake Medical Center and some nurses Johnson knows.
    Nutrition and healthy habits are important. A representative from the Virginia Cooperative Extension will be there to make presentations.
    Door prizes will be offered, including fire extinguishers and hearing protection.
    “We have a very nice farm first aid kit that is valued at $100,” Johnson said. She knows what’s in it because she assembled it herself.
    The farm safety day is part of Johnson’s capstone project for her degree.
    Johnson said that a Ph.D. candidate does a doctoral dissertation to complete the degree. A Doctor of Nursing Practice candidate does a clinical improvement project instead.
    “My focus was on agricultural injuries,” she said.
    Johnson already has a job lined up. She will work as a nurse/practitioner at East Lake, working with Dr. Leonard Cohen.