"When I hit the bottom, the tractor started to flip over backwards and I thought in that point in time if I stay in this seat, I'm not going to survive," farmer Don Tetreault recalled.
The memories of Tetreault's rollover are still as fresh today as they were 19 years ago. The New York farmer was compressing a bunker of silage when his tractor slipped off. His story is a common one. Tractor rollovers are the single deadliest type of injury on farms in the U.S., with about 250 rollover fatalities a year.
The Northeast region with its hilly and unpredictable terrain has the highest rate of tractor rollovers. And that's the biggest cause of death on the farm.
Rollover Protection Structures-- or ROPS-- are big metal bars that go over the operators seat, and used with a seat belt are considered the best protection. The University of Vermont Extension launched the Rebates for Roll Bars program-- the second of its kind in the country-- to address the problem. Under the program farmers can be reimbursed for 70 percent of the cost of buying a roll bar and seat belt kit. That's a savings of nearly $800.
John May, a doctor with the New York Center for Agriculture Medicine and Health, is spearheading a nationwide effort to educate farmers. From talking with farmers he says there are several reasons why they don't retrofit their tractors: cost and the hassle of finding the right parts.
"The final one of which is a big one-- is the firm belief that it's going to happen to someone else and not to them. Particularly experienced farmers we hear it over and over again; 'I've been doing this for thirty years, it's not going to happen to me.' But in point of fact-- it does," May said.
Tetreault says he was also in denial. But the poster farmer for this new campaign says he now knows better.
"It can and will happen-- especially when you don't think it's going to happen. I mean that's one of those things you never know," he said.
While all new tractors since 1986 have the roll bars and seat belts as standard equipment, many of the older models are over half a century old and will continue to be used well into the future.
"Come back to think about those young people, spouses and potentially grandchildren that are going to be on those farms and maybe driving those tractors. It's not going to happen to me, I know what I'm doing, it's not going to happen to me. But what if they're driving? Take that into consideration," said Diane Bothfeld, the deputy secretary of the Vt. Agriculture Agency.
Protecting the next generation of farmers.
The program has raised about $60,000 so far. That's enough to retrofit about 75 to 100 tractors. To find out more about the Rebates for Roll Bars program -- www.ROPSR4U.com -- OR -- 1-877-ROPS-R4U.
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:13 AM EST2013-12-05 06:13:43 GMT
One Georgia man is going all-out to light up his home for Christmas this year. For J.R. Adams, decorating his home elaborately with lights, music, and Santa Claus on a motorcycle is a childhood dream come true. "IMore >>
One Georgia man is going all-out to light up his home for Christmas this year.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:13 AM EST2013-12-05 06:13:06 GMT
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver. They say Wednesday afternoon an older model red Subaru wagon driving north on Route 14 in Williamstown crossed into oncoming traffic, enteredMore >>
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:12 AM EST2013-12-05 06:12:17 GMT
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region. Home Instead Senior Care is collecting gifts as part of its "Be a Santa to a Senior Program." The group'sMore >>
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:11 AM EST2013-12-05 06:11:32 GMT
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues. Wednesday night the South Burlington School board voted to pursue an appeal with the state supreme court to keep the clinic away fromMore >>
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:05 PM EST2013-12-05 01:05:10 GMT
Burlington's deputy police chief is off the hook on drunk driving charges after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday.More >>
Burlington's deputy police chief took a plea deal Wednesday, and then announced his retirement. The plea gets Andi Higbee off the hook for drunk driving, but the resolution of the case also ends his 24-year career with the BPD.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:45 AM EST2013-12-04 14:45:58 GMT
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End. It happened Tuesday afternoon on Marble Ave. Investigators say Bryan Frazier, 30, and Rashad Sabree,More >>
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-04 14:31:50 GMT
An accused murderer has fired his investigator. Dennis Tribble was convicted of murder twice. The 63-year-old Vermont man was convicted of shooting and killing Michael Borello in 2000. But the VermontMore >>
An accused murderer has fired his investigator.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:24 PM EST2013-12-04 23:24:21 GMT
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges. Police say Joshua Loura is now linked to three break-ins in Wolcott and Johnson. He was already accused ofMore >>
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges.More >>