SPOTLIGHT: Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health: Putting it into Practice

SPOTLIGHT: Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health: Putting it into Practice


Rural firefighters are many times volunteers and serve the agricultural community by responding to emergencies both on and off farms. One UMASH program has focused on this dedicated group of people to offer training and education to help them prevent and respond to agricultural injuries.

Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health (RF-DASH) is entering its third year with an emphasis on sustaining this important training. There are many examples of the work they do, one of which we are highlighting from November 2019. Read more about how RF-DASH is instrumental in providing hands on education for these committed volunteers.

Kyle Koshalek 
Research Coordinator Associate
National Farm and Medicine Center

Fire Chief Tim Carey (middle) among other RF-DASH participants being trained on farm mapping and farm hazard analysis at WEMSA.

On November 14, a group of Firefighters and EMS personnel attending the Wisconsin EMS Association Meetings were trained about the increased risks in agriculture and how they can become effective safety advocates by being prepared to safely respond to farm emergencies. One of these individuals present at the training was Stratford Fire Chief, Tim Carey.

Four days after the training on November 18, Stratford Fire with mutual aid from Mosinee and Marshfield Ambulance responded to a farm incident in rural central Wisconsin. A milk truck heading down a county road collided with a tractor in the late evening hours that sent both individuals to the hospital. Tragically, the incident resulted in the loss of the 38-year-old driver of the tractor.

Fire Chief Tim Carey talking with News Channel 7 about the incident and his message on how it can be prevented courtesy of WSAW.com.

“At this time of the year, everybody needs to slow down and be cautious of all of the farm tractors out there. For all of the farmers out there, make sure you put new SMV signs, reflectors, all of the flashing lights you can have because I don’t want to come out to another one of these.” – Tim Carey

Chief Carey being on scene, and having just taken the RF-DASH training a week prior, did an excellent job of communicating with the local media about actions that both farmers and the community can take to prevent such incidences from ever occurring. Chief Carey, both a farmer and a firefighter, understands the hazards that comes with working in high risk occupations. He also understands how one incident does not only affect the ones involved, but the entire rural community. In a recent interview he stated, “To me when I see a victim of a farm accident, it’s just like when it’s someone from the fire service, even if I don’t know them it feels like I do because they are like brothers to me.”

Firefighters/EMS are seen as trusted sources when it comes to both the media and the community, and sometimes we may forget how much of an impact they can have. “The feedback I have been getting about the interview in the Stratford community has been unbelievable,” Chief Carey recalled. “I was hauling corn into ProVision and even the person running the scale complimented me on the message from the interview. I told him if that short interview gets just one farmer to put some reflectors and a new SMV sign on his equipment and that prevents another accident, I will call it a win.”

As RF-DASH enters its third year of training, the team will begin focusing on sustainability and program effectiveness. RF-DASH will rely on people like Chief Carey to implement the training in their areas, to raise awareness of the hazards that are present, and above all, be the Rural Firefighter that Delivers Agricultural Safety and Health.

For further information on the incident and Fire Chief Tim Carey’s prevention message, visit:

Tractor vs. Milk Truck Crash under Investigation (WSAW)