Need: In 2014, the Avera St. Benedict Health Center's emergency department experienced a drastic increase in the amount of Hutterite patients with farm-related injuries.
Intervention: The South Dakota Critical Access Hospital created a program to educate Hutterite communities on farm hazards and safe work practices.
Results: Since the program began in 2015, the Avera St. Benedict emergency department has had no life-threatening agricultural injury admissions from the Hutterite communities. Attendees have said their confidence in their ability to identify hazards has increased, and more of them are using safety equipment on a regular basis.
Eastern South Dakota is home to nearly 50 Hutterite
colonies whose primary source of income is agriculture.
Avera St. Benedict Health Center, a Critical Access
Hospital in Parkston, South Dakota, has been providing
healthcare services via mobile clinics for 8 Hutterite
colonies in the town's surrounding areas. In 2014, the
Center experienced a drastic increase in the amount of
Hutterites receiving services from their emergency
department for farm-related injuries. Because Hutterites
do not typically utilize medical or emergency care
services, this raised concern among some of Avera's
In order to decrease farm-related accidents, Avera St.
Benedict's staff started "Safe Farming, Safe Living," a
program that educates Hutterite colonies on farm hazards
and promotes safe work practices. The program also
provides general and agricultural health education in a
culturally-sensitive manner. In the summer of 2015, Safe
Farming, Safe Living was held at each of the 8 Hutterite
colonies in places like schools, dining halls, machine
sheds, and butcher shops.
Hands-on demonstrations, training using visual and
Information on agricultural health topics including
skin cancer prevention and screening, zoonotic diseases,
eye protection, heat/cold stress, and sun safety.
Education on the proper use of car seats for
Safety tips on topics such as livestock and grain
handling, firearm and tractor safety, and All Terrain
Vehicle (ATV) operations.
Safety equipment, like ATV helmets, car seats, and
life jackets, are donated to assist in the adoption of
Local Hutterite teachers serve as interpreters for
young children whose first language is German.
In 2016, CPR, AED, Basic Life Support, First Aid, and
Field Trauma training was added as part of the Safe
Farming Safe Living program for adults. Two training
sessions were held on each of the 8 colonies to certify
agricultural workers in CPR, AED, and First Aid. Along
with general farm safety practices, children were taught
basic First Aid and EMS activation.
Lessons were taught with workbooks, materials, and
hands-on methods including the use of mannequins for CPR
and AED training. Farm emergency kits for field trauma
were made for each of the colonies, and special
instructions were given on how to best utilize them.
As a result of Safe Farming, Safe Living, many colony
members have voiced the importance of the knowledge
gained. Below are some specific outcomes:
More than 450 Hutterites participated in a Safe
Farming, Safe Living training.
No major life-threatening agricultural injuries have
been treated at Avera St. Benedict since the program
began in 2015.
88% of participants stated they were confident in
identifying farm safety hazards.
92% of participants expressed that the tractor safety
activities were especially helpful.
There was a noticeable increase in the use of car
seats and ATV helmets within the colonies.
176 people were certified in Basic Life Support
205 children participated in First Aid, accessing
EMS, and reinforcing of farm safety.
Other related results:
49.7% reported they were very confident in their
ability to provide CPR if needed, compared to 1.7%
26.8 reported they were very confident they could use
First Aid if someone is injured in a field pre-training,
compared to 5.6% pre-training
2.3% reported they were very confident they could use
an AED if needed pre-training, compared to 40.2%
Several nurses from Dakota Wesleyan University, training
with Avera St. Benedict Health Center, helped with the
program. This gave the nurses a new understanding of the
Hutterite culture and practical experience working with
people outside of the clinical setting.
Future trainings may include hearing testing, and the use
of hearing protection equipment.
Safe Farming, Safe Living reported that they have had
very few barriers due to their strong relationships with
the Hutterite colonies. The hardest part was choosing a
day for the training that would maximize participation.
Since farming is the major industry of Hutterite
colonies, a summer day between planting and harvest was
ideal. Depending on the day, some livestock owners and
their families could not participate due to the demands
of their occupation.
This type of program would be easily replicable for any
agricultural or educational group or events. Success will
depend on your ability to build relationships, the
investments you make in their communities, and your
efforts to understand the lifestyle of those you are
trying to serve. If you come from a rural community, your
rural audience will be more likely to welcome and learn
Staff who worked with this project had agricultural
background, making it easier to relate to those in
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.