Sturgeon County – A local farmer is recovering in an Edmonton hospital after being trapped in his combine for approximately 20 hours. Eighty-two-year-old Raymond Como, who owns farmland in the Riviere Qui Barre area, is believed to have been working on the machine Friday when he slipped and became wedged inside. He was discovered Saturday morning by his son-in-law who had come to pick him up for a family function.
Morinville Fire Chief Ron Cust said the department received the call about 10 a.m. Saturday morning, being called in as a medical assist but soon learned Como was trapped in his combine.
“We also sent a rescue vehicle out,” Cust said, noting an Alberta Health Services ambulance was already on the scene when they arrived. “It would appear that he [Como] was servicing his combine, putting antifreeze in or something like that, and had slipped and fallen in. Then as he tried to get himself out, he wiggled in such a way that his head was in the down position and his legs and arms were trapped in around the pulleys and the fan of the combine’s engine.”
The fire chief explained that Como’s particular model of Massey Ferguson combine has the engine in behind the main cab.
Cust said the members of his department sent to free Mr. Como determined the quickest way to get him out safely was to begin cutting and dismantling as much of the combine around him as possible.
“They used the tools in multiple ways to cut everything around so they could lift him out safely,” Cust said, noting the farmer was airlifted by STARS air ambulance to University Hospital in Edmonton.
Sturgeon County Councillor Jerry Kaup, a long-time friend and neighbour of Mr. Como, said the news was a shock to everyone in the area.
“You always put yourself in those shoes,” Kaup said, noting Como’s situation has urged him to look at how he connects with others when working in the field. “I was doing the same thing yesterday. I’m working by myself quite a bit. It could happen to any one of us. So I think it’s a real wake up call for all of us to think about when we’re out there, especially by ourselves. Hopefully it sends a message to all of us.”
But the immediate message is going to be how best to help Como get his crops harvested now that the farmer is in hospital. It is anticipated that Como could be in the hospital for as much as a month.
“I can just see Ray in the hospital: ‘Oh now how am I going to get that crop off?’” Kaup said, noting he is confident that he and other farmers in the area will take care of harvesting Como’s crops for him, right along with their own.
Raymond Como, who farms land his family settled in 1908, was presented with a 100 Year Farm Family Award by Sturgeon County in early August.