Hope and training enabled accident victim to survive entrapment
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Buried alive by soybeans in a grain bin, surviving long enough to be rescued came down to one thing: staying calm.
Bruce Robinson of New Madrid is completing his recovery today at Cape Girardeau hospital after being rescued from a grain bin entrapment Monday in New Madrid.
"I'm doing a lot better," Robinson said. "I'm a little sore. They moved me to a regular room yesterday afternoon. I've been doing a little walking with a walker. I'm real blessed: I'm doing great. I'm blessed, I know that much."
Robinson celebrated his 52nd birthday Tuesday with his family. "My grandkids came to see me, so that made me feel good," he said.
Robinson said he and his co-workers were working on breaking loose some soybeans in the bin Monday so the grain could be removed with an auger.
"We were just getting ready to load up another truck. We had shovels around the holes we had to remove once the auger went back on. We were in the process of doing all that," he said.
Communication was then lost with those outside the bin, Robinson said, and the trouble began.
"A big pile busted loose and it was too late then," he said.
Robinson sunk until he was completely submerged in the soybeans.
"I ended up kind of standing up bent over face first," he recalled. "It made it where I could keep myself a little room to breathe."
Robinson kept conversing, first with his co-workers and then, after 911 was called shortly after 10 a.m., with arriving rescue team members, so they could locate him under the beans. The conversations continued as they worked on getting him out without bringing more of the grain down on top of him.
Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps when he was younger, Robinson said his military training paid off.
"I remembered I can't panic, and that helped me," Robinson said. "It helped me keep my head, anyway."
Robinson said if he had lost control and struggled to free himself, "I might not have made it."
There were a couple of times during the four-hour ordeal he wasn't sure if he was going to make it: "I prayed," he said.
"I could hear everybody doing what they were trying to do," Robinson said. And he knew what he had to do: "Breathe, keep a steady breath."
Robinson said a few times he got so exhausted from breathing under the pressure of the beans he considered resting but knew that would be a mistake.
"I had to keep talking myself into keeping a steady pace on breathing and hope for the best," he said. "I had to breathe through my teeth to stop from swallowing anything. I couldn't breathe through my nose."
Rescue workers finally got Robinson out of the bin at about 2:30 p.m.
"I had no idea how long I was down there," he said. "I had no idea until the next day exactly how long it was. I was just glad I was able to stay calm."
Robinson said he hopes to be released from the hospital today.
"I couldn't feel my feet for two days," he said. "Nothing is broken, I'm just pretty sore," he said -- especially across the back of his neck and back which supported most of the weight of the beans above him. "I'm trying to get used to taking a full breath."
Robinson said he doesn't know who all was involved in rescuing him but is very grateful. "I'd like to thank them for all they did," he said. "I'd like to thank them all if I can."
"I think God's got something planned for me; he kept me around," Robinson said.