Last week, the farm safety conference was on in Carlow and the same week Senator Paul Daly launched a new bill looking for a Farm Safety programme. All farm safety needs to be pulled together. I was disillusioned after the conference because one person can control the way money is spent and can tell mistruths about work done by others. What I am referring to here is the Swedish model of farm safety, a mentoring programme which was called “safe farm common sense” has been successful, in that, it has reduced farm deaths by 45% in the first five years and in the last year, deaths dropped to zero. When I proposed to run a programme like this here in Ireland, I was told that the Swedish model did not include the under 16s or the over 65s in the evaluation. But, last week, Peter Lundquist said that he included everyone from zero to infinity in the evaluation. Yet our so-called experts were able to tell government officials that Lundquist did not include all age groups. So, who really cares about us Farmers? Talk is cheap.
Last week, I was requested to talk to farmers in the spinal injuries' unit of the rehab in Dun Laoghaire. This talk was open to all farmers in the hospital. About thirty people turned up on the day. As I approached the hospital, I got butterflies in my stomach. This was my first time back in the NRH since my accident nine years ago. Walking back up the ramp, memories came flooding back, then inside the door the smell of the hospital. At the reception, I asked for the person that was in charge, “Are you here for the farmers talk it’s down in the day room”, I was asked, so I walked to the elevator, hit the button for downstairs, and then it struck me that I did not remember where the dayroom was. Once out of the lift, I planned to ask for directions but as it happened, I met another farmer going down in the lift, so, I was ok and just followed him.
What a strange place, I thought as I stood there talking, just outside the lift in the hallway. I saw another person who had lost both legs go by in a wheelchair, he was not a farmer, but I had met him before in Portiuncula Hospital when I was in with my own infection in the good leg. He was in the bed next to me on that occasion, this was around the end of last September. At that stage, he had only lost one leg due to blood infection. Just after Christmas, I was back in the hospital and he was back in with the second leg amputated. Both were above the knee, and this will be very hard for him to get back up walking again.
As I walked down the hall, I started to remember the place, on my right was the canteen and next to it was the coffee shop. Across the hall was a big glass window looking out into a courtyard, I never walked around it. The room for the talk was straight ahead, to the right of the room was the ramp down to the prosthetic department.
As I entered the room, I met some of the farmers who were aged between twenty-three to seventy-five years of age. I was greeted with a big smile from one of the farmers. He was a young farmer, I was trying to think who he was, should I know him? So, he tells me that we met in Mount Bellew Agricultural College a few years ago. He is now wheelchair bound. What happened him? Last year driving home he fell asleep behind the wheel of a car and hit the only rock on the side of the road. The car crash broke his back and he will never walk again. What about farming?
More about my visit to the NRH next week...
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