No blood pressure screenings at this year's Big Iron, but farm safety still in the spotlight

A booth focused on farm first aid is one part of the revamped Health and Safety Center at the Big Iron Farm Show in 2020, and the ever-important hearing screenings are continuing this year.

WEST FARGO, N.D. — The Big Iron Farm Show was unable to offer its usual health screenings this year, but it did showcase some exhibits on farmer health and safety.

Essentia Health was one of the booths to host an exhibit at the Health and Safety Center at the annual show held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. Vicky Black, trauma program manager at Essentia Health, said that in years past, North Dakota State University students have done blood pressure screenings at Big Iron.

"Because of COVID, we weren't able to do those this year," she said.

But Black said Essentia Health was offering numerous different programs from its booth. As the trauma program manager, she was hosting hands-on demonstrations in bleeding control.

"There's a lot of injuries that come to us from farm accidents, so we're hoping that we can help those injuries by showing people how to control bleeding," Black said.


She said there was also a representative from the stroke program at Essentia Health, to provide information on what to look for with strokes, as well as an individual focused on heart attacks.

Although most of the health screenings were not held at Big Iron this year, one screening was: hearing.

MariBeth Plankers is a the director of the Regional Assistive Technology Center, which is a part of Minnesota State University Moorhead's speech language and hearing department. Plankers said every year they are at the Big Iron show to offer free hearing screenings.

"You get one set of ears, and you want to make sure you take care of those ears," Plankers said.

She said farmers have a history of hearing loss and are often around noisy equipment and loud tools. Plankers said hearing loss can be a forgotten part of farm safety.

"I think some farmers just think they'll lose their hearing over time anyway," she said. "But there are ways that you can protect what you have, and we want to preserve what you would normally have with the typical aging process."

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