CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Five minutes. It’s the difference between life and death when it comes to grain bin rescues. It’s a fact both Mattoon Mayor Rick Hall and Mattoon Fire Chief Jeff Hilligoss are well aware of. In that amount of time, it’s important to bring out the Great Wall of Rescue, a steel barricade used to encircle the trapped victim.

“These panels come into place to where we can surround the individual to keep grain from closing in on them,” Hilligoss said during a demonstration on the morning show.

Mattoon Fire Chief Jeff Hilligoss (Left) demonstrating how to assemble the Great Wall of Rescue with Mattoon Mayor Rick Hall (Right)

Once the panels are locked in place, rescuers place an auger inside. The auger is used to remove grain around the individual.

“The main focus is getting all the grain from around their chest area so they can breath and maintain their airway,” Hilligoss said. “That’s the crucial part.”

The Great Wall of Rescue came in handy with rescuing a Westfield man when he was stuck in a grain bin a couple weeks ago.

“The rescue in Westfield took a couple hours,” Hall said. “The person that was rescued still had to be in the hospital for several days because of issues with blood flow and a lot of other things coming into play.”

It is thanks to constant training within the fire department that the man was rescued. According to Helligross, it is due to a good relationship with the local communities they are able to train for these emergencies.

“We’re very fortunate that with our grain companies that we’ve got a good relationship with, they will bring a simulated silo on site that allows us to be working in grain.”

It’s a relationship that’s been proven to be life-saving.