RF-DASH was developed out of the question, “what influential people around farmers (insurance agents, bankers, etc.) can be targets of agricultural health and safety interventions?” This led the research team at the National Farm Medicine Center and the Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center to begin pile sorting a list of various resources and community members that farmers would listen and trust when it comes to making changes regarding health and safety on their farms and ranches? Not surprisingly, the first choice was family and friends. However, right behind them was firefighters and other emergency responders in their community. This led to the development of the Rural Firefighters Delivering Agriculture Safety and Health (RF-DASH) program.
The goal of the RF-DASH program is to equip rural emergency responders with farm-specific first aid curriculum, safety consultation capabilities, and farm hazard mapping strategies to assist in emergency responses and prevent injuries and fatalities on farms and ranches.
Introduction to Ag
First responders are trained and well practiced for emergencies that are of high frequency, low risk such as carbon monoxide and roadway incidents. However, farms pose as a low frequency, high risk emergency to many first responders. This introductory module introduces them to and discusses the causes of the most common farm emergencies, including strategies to expedite and improve responses to them.
Preplanning and Mapping
Farms with Farm MAPPER
Responding to emergencies on agricultural sites can be as dangerous as working there. Farms have machinery, chemicals, flammable agents, multi-story structures, unique electrical systems, to name a few challenges that place unique hazards to rescue personnel. Responders need to have a planned response for the farms in their service area to reduce this risk. This module includes instructional use of Farm-MAPPER, a free, online, mobile-friendly tool, that gives fire departments the ability to pre-plan and map farms, expediting response times in the event of a emergency.
Farm Hazard Analysis with
The goal of this module is to help with the identification of common hazards found on farms. Most individuals understand the need to identify farm hazards, however that is only one stage of the goal in managing hazards and risks. Farm hazards must also be evaluated and ranked in priority. These three stages tend to cyclical as opposed to being discrete, sequential steps. Saferfarm.org and the Farm Hazard Analysis Tool (FARM-HAT)provides everyone the ability to correct hazards and reduce the risk of injury on farms.
Farm First Aid
Most farmers and their families will not have any formal training in emergency response and first aid, and with the wide range of different hazards on farms, the probability of an incident is high. Knowing the correct response can improve a stressful situation and lead to better patient outcomes. This module aims to educate farm family members and employees how to manage a victim injured in a farm incident while emergency services are en route to the scene.
Approaching the Farm
This module covers methods on how to reach out and approach the farming community to implement the RF-DASH program on their area’s operations.
Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect and Prepare Emergency Responders (Farm MAPPER) is a interactive, web based tool developed by the National Farm Medicine Center to provide emergency responders onsite information about hazards, resources and physical layouts of agricultural operations.
SaferFarm.org is a free mobile-friendly website developed to assist in farm hazard identification, evaluation, and ranking and correcting farm hazards. The goal is to enable everyone to make their farm operations safer, so they can continue to do what they love–farming.
Publications, Media Coverage, Presentations, and Trainings
- Bendixsen C, Keifer M, et al. Spheres of Influence: Mapping and Engaging the Institutions that can influence Agricultural Health and Safety. Grant No. UMASH P002283014, Minneapolis, MN: CDC/NIOSH; June 2014.
- Reyes I, Rollins T, Mahnke A, Kadolph C, Minor G, Keifer M. Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect, and Prepare Emergency Responders: Farm MAPPER. J Agromedicine 2014; 19(2):90-95.
- Weichelt, Bryan, Augmented Reality Farm MAPPER Development: Lessons Learned from an App Designed to Improve Rural Emergency Response, Journal of Agromedicine, 2018.
- Bendixsen CG, Barnes KL, Kieke B. Mixed Methods Cognitive Mapping for Community Health Program Development. Practicing Anthropology. In preparation.
- Impact of a National Training for Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Health and Safety. In preparation.
- Bendixen, Casper, Use Farm MAPPER to assist, protect, prepare emergency responders, Progressive Dairyman. October 19, 2017
- Bendixen, Casper, Rural firefighters delivering agricultural safety and health, Progressive Dairyman. September 19, 2017
- Bendixen, Casper, Step one in farm safety: Recognize and record the hazards, Progressive Dairyman. November 9, 2017.
- Bendixsen, Casper, Farm First Aid – Preparing for Tough Situations, Progressive Dairyman, 2018.
- Alfultis, M. Tracking Farm Hazards with Farm MAPPER. Cornell Small Farms Program. June 28, 2018.
- Baker, B. Rural Firefighters Delivering Ag Safety. Dairy Radio Now. August 21, 2018.
- Dairy Business News Team. Training for farm emergency response. Dairy Business. September 11, 2018.
- Steffes, J. Firefighters in Allenton hosting Agricultural Safety and Health (RF-DASH) seminar Dec. 8 – By Ron Naab. Washington County Insider. December 3, 2018.
- Loomis, S., Bendixsen, C. Map Farms to Save Lives, AGRI-View. February 24, 2019.
- Baker, B., Bendixsen, C. Improving Farm Safety, Dairy Radio Now. July 30, 2019.
- Simes, J., Koshalek, K. Online Tools help Analyze Hazards, The Western Producer. August 1, 2019.
- Baker, B., Bendixsen, C. Program Teaches Rural 9-1-1 Response. Dairy Radio Now. August 13, 2019.
- National Training coverage
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety. Morning Ag Clips. October 9, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. Wisconsin State Farmer. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. Rural Radio Network. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. KTIC Radio. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. National program sees rural firefighters promote farm safety. Vegetable Growers News. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. Fruit Growers News. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program that began in Wisconsin. Daily Dispatch. October 9, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Stevens Point Journal. October, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. Montgomery Advertiser. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. Silver City Sun News. October 8, 2019.
- Heiberger, S. Rural firefighters promote farm safety through national program. High Plains Journal. October 14, 2019.
- Rusk, G., Bendixsen, C., Minor, G. Program Trains First Responders to Respond to Farm Accidents. WMTV Channel 15. Wisconsin Dells, WI. November 14, 2019.
- Program Trains Firefighters for Farm Accidents. Firefighter Nation. November 24, 2019.
- Brechwald, M., Bendixsen, C. Agricultural Health & Safety – Special Edition. Off-Farm Income. December 13, 2019.
- Contact First Responders Quickly. Red River Farm Network. March 8, 2020.
- Prater, L., Bendixsen, Casper, Firefighters and Farmers Tackle Safety Together, Successful Farming. May 1, 2020.
- Connatser, G. Weichelt, B., Minor, G. Wisconsin Farm-Related Fatality Report Resurrected, offers Data on Ag Deaths. Wisconsin State Farmer. August 12, 2020.
- Mayer, S., Minor, G., Biadasz, B., Grezenski, L. Farm Safety: Gas. PDPW. September 24, 2020.
- Mayer, S., Minor, G. Preventing Farm Fires. PDPW. October 22, 2020.
- Johnson, A. Barn Fires are a Winter Concern for Producers. Minnesota Farm Guide. January 29, 2021.
- Farmers partner with rural firefighters to reduce injuries, fatalities. The Independent. February 28, 2021.
- Wisconsin program trains firefighters on responding to farm emergencies. Spectrum News 1. June 2, 2021. https://spectrumnews1.com/wi/milwaukee/news/2021/05/31/wisconsin-program-trains-firefighters-on-responding-to-farm-emergencies?cid=id-app15_m-share_s-web_cmp-app_launch_august2020_c-producer_posts_po-organic
- Spotlight on Rural Firefighters Delivering Agriculture Safety and Health (RF-DASH). Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA). October, 2021.
- Bendixsen CB, Barnes KL. Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health (RFDASH). NORA Symposium. Minneapolis, MN. May 5, 2017.
- Bendixsen, Casper. RFDASH Curriculum Round Table Discussion. Marshfield, WI. June 7, 2017.
- Bendixsen, C., Barnes, K., Murphy, D., Hill, D., Keifer, M. Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Health and Safety. International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH). Logan, UT. June 25-28, 2017.
- Bendixsen, Casper, Salzwedel, Marsha. Sharing the News of RF-DASH. Pittsville Area Fire Fighting Training. Pittsville, WI. September 25, 2017.
- Bendixsen, Casper. Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health: An Example in Disseminating Through Technology. Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA). Scottsdale, AZ. February 21-23, 2018.
- Bendixsen, C., Barnes, K. Innovative Uses of Technology in Ag Health and Safety – the RF-DASH Project. Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America. (ASHCA). Scottsdale, AZ. September 25-27, 2018.
- Zwaschka, J. RF-DASH. Southwest Regional Fire Department Association. Windom, MN. September 14, 2019.
- Bendixsen, C., Barnes, K., Koshalek, K. An Eager Audience for Farm Safety: Updates from Rural Firefighters. International Society for Agricultural Safety & Health (ISASH). Des Moines, IA. June 24-27, 2019.
- Bendixsen, C. Minor, G. Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health. Wisconsin Rural Partners. Virtual Presentation. June 18, 2020.
- Koshalek, K., Barnes, K., Bendixsen, C. Rural Firefighters Delivering Agriculture Safety and Health (RF-DASH) – Expanding a Program beyond its Regional Boarders. International Society for Agricultural Safety & Health (ISASH). Virtual Presentation. July 28, 2020.
- Swenson, A., Bendixsen, C., Barnes, K., Redmond, E., Koshalek, K., Pilz, M., Sauer, M. Rural Firefighters Delivering Agricultural Safety and Health: Social Network Analysis. International Society for Agricultural Safety & Health (ISASH).Virtual Presentation. July 26, 2020.
- Bendixsen, C., Barnes, K., Koshalek, K. Flexing Trust: Firefighters and Farmers Tacking Farm Safety Together. Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA). Virtual Presentation. October 14, 2020.
- Bendixsen, C. Flexing Trust: Firefighters and Farmers Tacking Farm Safety Together. Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week: Emergency Action Plans. Virtual Presentation. April 2, 2021.
- Koshalek, K., Barnes, K., Swenson, A., Pilz, M., Sauer, M., Bendixsen, C. America’s Two Most Admired Professions. Separate No More. ISASH. Virtual Presentation. June 22, 2021
- Bendixsen, C. Flexing Trust: Firefighters and Farmers Tackling Farm Safety Together. CASA. Virtual Presentation. August 12, 2021.
- Bendixsen, C. Flexing Trust: Firefighters and Farmers Tackling Farm Safety Together. NASAAEP. Virtual Presentation. August 11, 2021.
- Bendixsen, C. Flexing Trust: Firefighters and Farmers Tackling Farm Safety Together. CASA Conference. Virtual Presentation. October 21, 2021.
- Bendixsen, C. Prevention of Farm Incidents. Agriculture Rescue Training. Virtual Presentation. October 22-23, 2021.
- Koshalek, K. Agriculture Rescue Training and RF-DASH. NCRTAC Trauma Conference. In-person presentation. April 7, 2022.
- RF-DASH Wausau Training, Wausau, WI, In-person. November, 4, 2017.
- RF-DASH Menomonie Training, Menomonie, WI, In-person. April 21, 2018.
- RF-DASH Elbridge Training, Elbridge, NY, In-person. September 15, 2018.
- RF-DASH Allenton Training, Allenton, WI, In-person. December 3, 2018.
- RF-DASH National Training Pilot, Minneapolis, MN, In-person. September 7, 2019.
- RF-DASH Wisconsin EMS Association Training, Wisconsin Dells, WI, In-person. November 14, 2019.
- RF-DASH Canadian Agriculture Safety Association Training. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In-person. March 7-9, 2022.
Meet the Experts Behind RF-DASH
Casper ‘Cap’ Bendixsen, PhD
As a social-cultural anthropologist, former firefighter/EMT , raised on a farm and ranch, and Director of the National Farm Medicine Center, Dr. Casper ’Cap’ Bendixsen has an extensive background working with, living within, and researching agricultural, rural communities , and emergency responders in the U.S. I direct the RF-DASH program and instruct the “Farm Community Outreach” module.
Fire Chief Jerry Minor
I’ve been doing the fire EMS thing for 40 + years so that’s pretty much my entire work career. Outside of the fire department stuff I do more fire department stuff. I have always thought the RF-DASH program should be the “one stop shop” for Fire / EMS folks as they look for information and training on Ag related needs. I’m very grateful the partnerships that we build can do nothing but enhance the good for all involved. I instruct the “Preplanning and mapping Farms” module.
Matt Keifer, M.D.
I am a Occupational Medicine Physician and former Director of the National Farm Medicine Center. My experience in agriculture starts when I was a teenager, working on a farm in the summer’s, and those being some of the most enjoyable times of my life. When I became a physician, I wanted to marry my farm and medical interests together and agricultural medicine was a perfect fit. I instruct the “Preplanning and Mapping Farms” module.
Dennis Murphy, PhD
Growing up in a central Illinois family that operated a grain & livestock farm, a funeral home, and ambulance service, working with rural emergency service providers, farmers, ranchers, their families, and hired workers, has always been important to me. As the Extension Safety Specialist at Penn State University for 41 years, I have helped to create farm firefighting, agricultural accident rescue, and farm/ranch family emergency response programs, as well as numerous safety and health programs and resources for farm and ranch operations. I instruct the “Farm Hazard Analysis” module.
I am Farm Safety Specialist at Penn State Extension providing education and training on farm safety and agricultural rescue. Outside of my normal work, I enjoy working on my own farm equipment and volunteering with the local fire company. Being a fifth generation volunteer firefighter, the RF-DASH program has captured my interest because it allows me to combine by passion for agriculture with emergency response and working directly with both groups towards a common goal. I instruct the “Introduction to Agricultural Emergencies” module.
Jim Carrabba, MS
I am an Agricultural Safety Specialist with NYCAMH/NEC (New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health – Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety). I have been in my position for 15 years providing safety training and safety consulting to farmers in NY primarily, but also in our NEC Northeast region. Part of my duties include delivering agricultural hazard awareness level training to firefighters and EMS personnel in my region. I instruct the “Farm First Aid” module.
I’ve helped lead in the development of the training program, specifically related to teaching emergency responders how to be better prepared to respond to and manage farm emergencies as well as teaching farm family members how to approach trauma emergencies on the farm. For the past 25+ years I have been striving to learn about trauma and teach those first on the scene how to best treat it. Our efforts led to a statewide protocol for pre-hospital treatment of crush injuries. My goal is to help the program identify some key people that can help the agriculture community recognize hazards on their farms and reduce the potential for serious and fatal injuries.
Kate Barnes, MS, MPH
Andrea Swenson, PhD
UMASH Pilot Award P005501204 (2014 – 2016) ● CDC/NIOSH U54 OH010170 (UMASH) (2016-2022)