Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health (RF-DASH)

Project Description

Dates: 2016 – current

The overall goal of this project is to improve the farmers’ access to capable health and safety consultation. The Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health (RFDASH) project provides farm safety tools and knowledge to rural firefighters through community colleges, emergency responder training events, and individual training officers. Fire departments, community colleges, and insurance companies in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois are currently participating.

This project is based upon results from the Spheres of Influence Project which found that farmers, agricultural bankers, and agricultural insurers believe that firefighters can be influential and motivate farmers to make changes to improve the health and safety on their farms. The project team believes that rural firefighters and first responders are highly esteemed people in rural and agricultural communities. With these new tools and knowledge, they can be influential on farmers’ health and safety decisions in their communities. We believe this will reduce farm hazards and improve farm safety.

We will explore the feasibility and efficacy of equipping rural emergency responders with farm-specific first aid curriculum, safety consultation capabilities, and farm hazard mapping strategies to assist in emergency responses to farms. We will also provide rural fire departments with digital tools to help train and guide them in the conduct of farm safety consultations. We will also enlist local academic institutions and insurance companies in the development and support of programs to sustain this cross trained workforce.

The following specific aims will be achieved over a five-year period:

  1. Modify existing curricula to instruct rural emergency responders to effectively disseminate agricultural health and safety knowledge. The proposed curricula will enable firefighters to:
    • Instruct farmers, farm families, and farm workers in Farm First Aid in order to raise injury awareness and disseminate prevention strategies.
    • Perform agricultural safety consultations for farmers with the assistance of the Farm/Agriculture/Rural Management – Hazard Analysis Tool (FARM-Hazard Analysis Tool) in order to increase the number of competent agricultural safety consultants.
    • Utilize Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect and Prepare Emergency Responders (Farm-MAPPER) in order to prevent injuries to firefighters during farm emergencies and expedite response times.

  3. The research team will utilize social network analysis and anthropologic data to describe and efficiently navigate the existing network of agricultural health and safety experts, fire training institutions, firefighters, insurance companies, and farmers.

  5. The research team will develop guidelines and technical assistance resources in order to promote sustainability, update curricula, and enable replication of the RFDASH model in new regions.


The overall goal of this project is to improve the farmers’ access to capable health and safety consultation by providing rural firefighters and emergency responders with farm safety knowledge and tools, thereby reducing farm hazards and improving farm safety.

Project Personnel

Photo of Casper Bendixsen PhD

Casper Bendixsen PhD

Project Scientist National Farm Medicine Center
Phone: 715-387-9410
Photo of Kathrine L. Barnes MS, MPH

Kathrine L. Barnes MS, MPH

Research Specialist National Farm Medicine Center
Phone: 715-221-7150

Project News