Worker Rescued From Trench

Photo: Ford, Brad

Portland Fire & Rescue lifted a worker from a trench on Monday.

It was reported that a construction worker on site of a Bureau of Environmental Services sump improvement construction site fell 30’ to the bottom of an excavated hole. The hole was dug by a construction firm that was contracted to perform work to improve the cities sump collection system. The first arriving crew confirmed the individual was at the bottom of the 30’-35’ hole, was able to talk, had evidence of head trauma and further communicated that the behavior of the individual was not normal based on observations made by the other onsite construction personnel.

The technical rescue team arrived to take command of the scene and began to enact a rescue plan. The air in the large hole was monitored and determined to be safe throughout for the entire 8’ in diameter and 35’ in depth hole. Without any shoring material in place from the top to the bottom, a responding chief reached out to city maintenance yard to put safety equipment on standby if the plan enacted would call for this additional equipment. 

With the victim able to communicate, a plan was put in place to use a rope rescue system. This rescue was dependent upon the victim being able to successfully put on a rescue harness under the direction of the rescue team at the top of the hole. The crane on one of our responding rigs was extended and ready to use as a high point required for this operation but the overhead wires caused concern, so the team pivoted and elected to use the bucket of the onsite excavator as the high point for the rescue. With the harness successfully in place, the rescue ropes were lowered to the bottom of the hole where the victim was further coached on where to attach each rope for successful rescue. Teams will always use a redundant system for safety, so a primary and secondary rope was attached to the rescue harness. With the ropes in place and attached to the victim's harness, the team brought the victim to the surface to safety.

In less than 30 minutes after receiving the emergency, the victim was safely at the surface and transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. The time to put in place safety measures shoring up the walls of such a deep hole, rescue crews would have been on scene for hours before any rescue attempt would have been made has this rope rescue plan not been successful. 

Many specific facets occurred that allowed for this rescue to be completed in this incredibly short time frame. The first arriving crews properly reporting the situation to the responding technical rescue team, the ability for the victim to successfully don the rescue harness, the location of the on site excavator in place alongside the hole, and the ability to safely establish a rope system without any debris falling into the hole or the side walls of the hole collapsing all aligned just right to have the victim in transit to the hospital in just over 30 minutes from receiving the emergency dispatch.

Source: Portland Fire & Rescue

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