GEAPS Exchange, News & Publications

The People Behind the Grain Entrapment Rescue Demo

Published: Jan 22, 2024 by Krissy Ohnstad

Stepping on the expo show floor at GEAPS Exchange, there is a lot to take in.

There are old friends, future friends, companies you’ve come to rely on and companies who might amaze you with their products and advances. There are Innovation Stations offering free education sessions on topics relevant to the work you do.

In the heart of it all there is, perhaps, the most important stop you’ll make while you’re visiting the expo at GEAPS Exchange.

The Grain Entrapment Rescue Demo provides training that might just save your life. 

Demonstrations are offered multiple times, every day of the Expo, Sunday through Tuesday. It’s been going on annually for several years.

It takes a not-so-small but mighty team to bring it all together. Leading the charge are Dr. Carol Jones, Butch Hendrix and CJ Stenner.

When it comes to grain safety, Jones wears many hats. She can be heard on a recent episode of Whole Grain podcast talking about grain dust safety and is an instructor with Oklahoma State University’s Fire Service Training Grain Entrapment Rescue program. The former fulltime professor also runs CL Jones Consulting LLC, which provides grain handling and storage engineering, training and forensic services, among other things.

Hendrix, safety director for Kokomo Grain, has been in the safety business for decades. He also wears many hard hats. Among other things, Hendrix also is a trainer with the Grain Handling Safety Coalition and has been in fire service for more than 40 years. In addition to his work at the Grain Entrapment Rescue Demo, Hendrix volunteers his time helping plan Exchange education as part of GEAPS’ Exchange Educational Programming Committee (EPC).

“This has been very popular, so we bring it back every year. In the last couple of years, I’ve been dubbed as the go-to guy for the exchange demo trailer because they just automatically put me there,” Hendrix said. “It’s been such a popular demonstration since it’s inception, they just automatically want to bring it back every year. We keep inviting Carol and crew back.”

Stenner is the new guy for this year. He’s a battalion chief over special operations rescue division for Kansas City Fire Department.

“We’ve been really fortunate, the last couple of years, to work with the Kansas City Fire Department and actually use their people in the trailer. We’ve learned a lot from them, hopefully they’ve learned from us,” Jones said. “None of this works unless you have people working together in the real world.”

The battalion chief for Kansas City Fire Department, Stenner said his crew looks forward to Exchange.  He’ll be joined by captains on his team who have come out before.

“They always look forward to this,” Stenner said.

Not only are they helping those of us who watch the demo, it’s valuable training for them when they get the call for a real-life situation.

“This is what we call a low volume, high risk situation for us. We don’t run a lot of these type of calls, so to touch into it, at least annually to keep it on our minds and keep it on the forefront. This is a different type of training,” Stenner said. “For us, in the tech rescue world, no two calls are the same. Each time we experience something like this…it gives the guys a little bit more experience. Adds to their toolbox, gives them ideas even for other calls that are confined space. We do our confined space training every year, but this gives a different aspect and opens their minds to different aspects.”

“That’s what makes this work so well at Exchange,” Jones said. “The responders that are there are actually learning. The grain facility is totally foreign to most people. We might have a few fire fighters or first responders that have been from a farm, but most people have never been in the environment of stored grain and grain is like no other product that we know of. It feels different, it acts different, it changes as time goes on and so to have them understand the basics of what they might see when they respond is important. Hopefully they never need it. That would be our goal, but the reality is people still go in the bins and still get in trouble in there.”

The Grain Entrapment Rescue Demo is a popular stop at Exchange, and the presenters says they see many familiar faces, and remarked the audience is more knowledgeable than they were before. This is working.

“Nobody should have to die in this industry,” Jones said. “Most of these accidents don’t have to happen. They just don’t. Nothing impacts a family or community like this does.  When something like this happens, it is just devastating and it just doesn’t have to happen. We never know how many we save, but we like to think maybe we’re saving a few of them.”


Jessica Waltzer
Communications Manager