GFB News Magazine

Tips to help people injured on the farm

by Jay Stone
News Reporter

Posted on June 2, 2024 12:28 PM

By Jay Stone

Statesboro trauma surgeon Dr. John Martin says preventing a farm injury can be as simple as exercising common sense. 

“If it looks like it might be dangerous, don't do it,” Dr. Martin says.

When prevention fails, there are things that can be done to prevent an injury from becoming fatal after you call 911 and wait for medics to arrive. 

Martin’s top advice is: Do no additional harm. If possible, leave the person where they are and stabilize them. Martin’s advice for common farm injury scenarios are:

• Amputation

In some cases, a limb or a digit can be reattached surgically. To make this possible, the severed body part must be retrieved, cleaned and kept cool.

“If you've got a source of clean water, rinse the part off, put it in a plastic bag and then wrap that in a towel and knot it.”

Martin warned against freezing the amputated portion, which kills tissue. 

“Don't put the body part in direct contact with ice,” he said.

• Crushed by equipment

“Let's say a piece of  equipment just rolled over [someone] and they're lying in the field,” Martin said. “You don't want to move that person unless you absolutely must. Call for rescue and try to keep them warm. Even if it doesn't seem cold, the body responds to traumatic situations by losing temperature. Cover them up. Keep them shaded if it's hot. Warm them if it's cool.”

• Impalement

If an object has pierced through a person, Martin says leave the object in place. The object might be preventing bleeding. Removing it could make the injury worse. If the ends of the object must be cut down to transport them, let a medic or someone with first responder training do that.

“Leave it in there. It needs to come out carefully,” Martin said. 

Dr. John Martin, standing, gives a group of Georgia Farm Bureau 7th District Young Farmers & Ranchers first aid tips to respond to various injuries they may encounter on the farm. / Photo by Jay Stone

 • Broken limb

Stabilize a fractured arm or leg by securing it to something rigid like sticks, a piece of lumber, PVC pipe or steel rod.

“All bones are associated with nerves, arteries and veins,” Martin said.

“If you have a fracture that has not yet lacerated a vascular or a neurological element, and you try to reduce it yourself, you very likely will make the injury worse. Leave setting the limb to the professional.”

The same advice, he said, goes for dislocations.

“If it's dislocated, pointing in any direction, immobilize it like it is. Don't try to fix it.”

• Unconscious but breathing

 “You must be careful with moving injured victims without knowing how to do it. When the EMTs roll in, they'll put a collar on them, use a spine board and maintain traction on the neck and the neurological elements to prevent that injury from precipitating a more traumatic event.” 


 Most farm chemicals can be lethal if they contact facial features, large areas of skin or are ingested. Call 911 and then the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Martin advises wearing gloves and face shields when treating a poisoning victim.

“The first thing is, don’t get it on yourself,” Martin said. “If the person's clothes are covered [with the chemical], strip those off. Irrigate them with water to wash the chemical off the skin. Then, be concerned about hypothermia and cooling the person down too much.” 

Wrap them in an uncontaminated blanket or clothing to fight hypothermia. 

• Heat stroke

Drink lots of water and take breaks when working outside on hot, humid days. Take precautions even on cloudy or cool days.

For someone with a heat-related injury, take steps to cool them: move them to a shaded area, get them to drink water, loosen or remove clothing and ice areas of the body where blood vessels are most exposed, like the armpits and the groin.

• Gunshot wounds

Martin emphasized that stopping blood loss is job one. 

If the wound is where a tourniquet can help, use or make one. A blood pressure cuff can work as a tourniquet. If one isn’t available or the wound is in a place that can’t be treated with a tourniquet, put a bandage or cloth over it and apply pressure.

Tourniquets should be placed between the wound and the heart. 

“If you're shot below the knee, put one above the knee. If you put one on and that doesn't stop it, you put another one on,” Martin said.

The smaller the diameter of the extremity – think lower shin as opposed to thigh – the greater the likelihood you’ll be able to compress the artery.

“If you're shot above your ankle, put the tourniquet below the knee, right above the wound entry,” he said. 

• Mauling 

If you encounter a person mauled by an animal, first ensure the animal can do no further danger. Then, stop  the bleeding using a tourniquet or bandages and pressure.

“You have a potential for significant blood loss,” Martin said. “The number one thing you can do to save people's lives is have a tourniquet. If you have lots of lacerations, you want to try to control the bleeding.”

 • Snake bite

 When possible, keep the body part where the bite occurred lower than the heart. Forget how snake bites are treated in movies.

“Do not cross hatch the bite wound and suck on it [to remove venom]. You want to reduce the flow of venom towards the heart. Don't put a tourniquet on it. Don't elevate it. If possible, head immediately toward the hospital for treatment,” Martin said. 

If you’re bitten, get somebody to drive you.

• Frostbite

We may not associate cold-related injuries like frostbite with Georgia’s warm climate, but they do happen. Martin recommends protecting the body part by covering it, then seek medical attention.

“The skin that’s dead will peel off, he said. “Often, you'll have healing underneath over time. Sometimes we must amputate, but not very often.”

This article is for educational purposes only. Follow recommendations of trained medical professionals offered via phone or once they arrive on scene.