While urban areas mostly deal with potholes, for some farmers in Lancaster County – especially a small subset of its population, commonly known as the Amish – it’s hay holes that pose a danger.
According to an article recently published by LG Health researchers, hay-hole falls are a continuous risk for children living on a farm. Generally located on the second story of a barn, hay holes are used to drop feed to animals below. Historically, they have not been covered because they reduce ventilation, which puts the barn at risk for fire, especially during hot summer months.
After LG Health physicians noticed a growing number of Emergency Department patients with head trauma and other injuries resulting from hay-hole falls – primarily from the Amish community – a simple and low-cost cover was developed. LG Health trauma team members and community health experts worked with the Penn State Agricultural Extension, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and the Pennsylvania Amish Safety Committee to create and distribute hay-hole covers. Within the first year, LG Health saw a 35 percent drop in the number of head trauma cases caused by hay-hole accidents.
In 2017, The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma awarded the Cox-Templeton Injury Prevention Paper Award to LG Health for its paper that highlights efforts in decreasing hay-hole falls among the Rural Anabaptist Population, which includes the Amish, as well as Old Order Mennonite and Brethren communities.