Trench rescues are rare in the Richmond area. The last one happened in 2009. It took hours for rescuers to pull the victim out of the hole. It was about 20-feet deep — he survived. Although it's been several years, crews stress how important it is to practice this dangerous rescue.
This is the scenario: two victims are in danger of being crushed. In the first trench, a man is pinned underneath a concrete slab weighing more than 2,000 pounds. In the other trench, a man is underneath a backhoe bucket. There is also a mechanical failure and the backhoe cannot be removed.
But this is just a drill by the Central Virginia Technical Rescue team.
"We're trying to operate to as close as real speed as possible without making any mistakes," said Capt. James Mellon with Henrico Fire and Rescue.
It's made up of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and Richmond Fire & EMS divisions. Even in practice, this type of rescue can take hours.
The trench must be protected by placing boards to distribute the weight. This prevents a cave in.
Jay Hugall is in the trench with the victim trapped underneath the concrete slab.
"It's man power intensive, you need a lot of people," he said.
Next the victim must be secured, then the actual rescue can begin. It starts with medical treatment.
"Checking the victim out, starting the I.V. then we'll move to patient packaging," said Hugall.
When a person is trapped, no mechanical device can be used. The victim must be dug out by hand so he's not injured any more than he already is.
Two hours later, the victim is lifted to safety.
Trench rescues only happen every few years, so practice means another life is saved.
"Each time, we find new challenges that we need to address," said Lt. Scott Kinkade with Henrico Fire and Rescue.
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