Cornish farmer, Ian Davey, nearly left behind a loving wife and two children – a boy of nearly three and a girl of six months – when a snap decision he made during combining had horrific consequences.
Arriving at the field with his tractor and trailer to collect the grain from the combine, Ian found that he had five minutes to spare and decided to tip the trailer into the air, facing it into the sun to dry the floor and help prevent the grain from getting wet.
Unbeknown to him, the trailer had touched the power line and, as he got out of the tractor cab, stepping on to the ground and holding the metal door, 11,000 volts of electricity shot through him. “I was literally stuck to the spot,” he said. “It was about three or four minutes after that when the front tyre of the tractor caught fire. Even though the power hadn’t killed me, if I hadn’t managed to break free then the fire would have.”
The power surge going through Ian’s body had dislocated his shoulder and shattered the bone in his upper arm. “After I was treated in hospital the doctors told me that it looked as though somebody had smashed it with a sledgehammer,” he said.
Ian was in hospital for almost a week and then convalescing for another six, which meant that it was a tough time for his wife, Helen. Not only was she concerned for her husband, but she had two young children to look after and a busy farm to run. “I had all the cattle, sheep and two flocks of free range hens to look after and the harvest still needed to be finished. It was a bit of a nightmare but our friends and neighbours were a great help and support.”
The incident has made Ian think differently as he goes about his jobs on the farm: “I am now much more careful and certainly with having two young children, it does make you more cautious. I now try to think twice before doing anything.”
Ian and Helen support the HSE’s ‘Make the Promise’ campaign. Helen likes the idea of a ’promise knot’ acting as a reminder for farmers to take care. “I think it is a really good idea that they stick it in their pocket with their handkerchief and pocket knife. If it makes one person think that they are not going to drive in a field that is too steep or they are not going to handle cattle on their own or even if it means they don’t do a job in such a hurry, then it’s worth it.”