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One Person is Safe After Three Hour Trench Rescue in Clifton Park

By JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent | August 18, 2021 | NEW YORK

Story No. 090321105

CLIFTON PARK, NY - On August 18th at 5:11 P.M., the Clifton Park Fire Department along with Clifton Park EMS were dispatched to 41 Sitterly Road for a bravo response for a male that reportedly fell into a six-foot deep trench and could not get out due to a possible ankle injury.

Car 19 called the dispatcher and requested further information on the call and learned that it was a construction site where they had dug a trench for a sewer or water line connection and the trapped individual in the hole was down 6 feet deep and it was filling with water. While in route to the scene the chief of Clifton Park Fire Department immediately requested the Colonie Village Fire Company for their trench rescue team to respond to the scene.

Car 19 quickly arrived on scene and discovered a individual trapped in a trench 6 feet deep by over 10ft wide with rapidly deteriorating conditions inside of the trench along with the victim was trapped up to his waist in mud and water. Command without hesitation ordered all units responding into the scene to park the vehicles away from the jobsite and all available manpower from the department to come into the scene and for all responding units to do the same to reduce the vibration on scene. Command requested for the Town of Clifton Park's DPW to the scene with their VAC Truck. Firefighters that arrived on scene immediately deployed a attic ladder down into the hole, but the trench conditions were rapidly deteriorating around the wall and the inner wall of the trench was slowly collapsing in towards the victim. Command also secured a mini excavator nearby and made sure that it was not running.

On arrival of the rescue company, firefighters and EMS quickly established good communication with the victim in the hole keeping him calm and talking to them the entire time. Knowing this was going to be a manpower extensive incident command requested Visher Ferry Fire Department, Halfmoon-Waterford Fire Department, Mechanicville Fire Department, Hillcrest Fire Department, West Crescent Fire Department for man power to the scene, the Round Lake Fire Department for a cover assignment, and the Jonesville Fire Department for their rehab bus to the scene. A special request was made for the Momentive trench and high angle rescue team to the scene.

The Colonie Village Fire Company arrived on scene within 20 minutes of the initial dispatch with their specialized trench rescue rig and rescue one along with multiple Colonie EMS personal and a doctor from Albany Medical Center. Colonie Villages Chief made his way to the trench and quickly began to establish a size up plan for the rescue. Multiple members of the trench rescue team quickly began to mobilize the large wooden stabilization pads and began to bring them down to the job site. Numerous firefighters began to off load close to a dozen Paratech rescue struts and large air systems in the staging area. Firefighters pulled all of the ground boards and began to nail them together around the rim of the trench making it safe for rescuers to work around the top of the trench.

Multiple senior trench rescue technicians on site made their way into the hole with the victim. Command requested Sitterly Road to be shut down to all traffic as the hole conditions were worsening due to the vibration on scene and they did not want to take a risk of any large commercial traffic flowing through the area creating unnecessary vibrations. Chief Kayser of the Colonie Village Fire Company assumed full operational command of the trench rescue and the chief of the Clifton Park Fire Department took command of overseeing the incident. Operational command requested the trench rescue panels to be lowered in to the trench on both sides and for the rescue struts to be expanded across the hole to establish for stabilization of the walls around the trench. With the panels in place firefighters did not have to worry about shear wall collapse. Firefighters also took a trench rescue panel and laid it into the hole as the conditions inside of the hole were extremely treacherous as the soil mostly made up of clay, sand, and mud were causing the rescuers to sink into the hole.

Operational command requested a 2 1/2 inch hand line with a 1 1/2 inch connection for a hand line with a piercing nozzle to be established as they were going to attempt to loosen the clay and mud mixture from around the victims trapped legs and torso. As Multiple firefighters were working in the hole to attempt to get the victim out paramedics on scene established a IV into the patient to keep him hydrated as the victim was starting to shiver. The doctor on scene began to give the victim medication to prevent Crush Injury Syndrome. After one hour into the incident in attempting to free the victim with no luck, command requested a ditch witch to the scene. The light weight vacuum trailer AKA ditch witch quickly arrived on scene and firefighters began to stretch the 75 foot-long Lengths of hose down to workers inside the hole.

Firefighters quickly assembled the attachments for the ditch witch, but firefighters discovered a large hole in the suction line and quickly wrapped it with pairs of medical gloves, medical tape and duct tape in order to create a full suction on the line. Firefighters on scene established a bucket line and began to bring large amounts of mud out of the hole that was around the victim. Exhausted rescuers in the hole continued to work with the victim to get him out. Firefighters were eventually able to get a backboard down behind the victim and utilized a harness that was on him. Firefighters established a rope to the harness so that the victim did not slide down into the mud any further. firefighters used the piercing nozzle to move the mud from around the victims legs. After the firefighters were able to move a large amount of the mud from around the victims legs they began to loosen the legs, but stopped when the victim screamed in pain. Firefighters told the victim that they needed to get him out and continued to attempt to get a little movement from the victim trapped in the hole. One of the rescuers/ medic in the hole administered pain medication to the victim in order to reduce the amount of pain when they were working around his legs.

Rescuers inside of the hole continued for over an hour using the ditch witch to suck out the mud away from the victim. After three hours in the hole, rescuers were finally able to maneuver enough mud away from the victim and release the suctions on victims legs. With help from the rope team above the individual freed from the mud. The victim was quickly taken to a nearby ambulance and transported to Albany Medical Center with a doctor on board. Over 70 firefighters on scene assisted in the rescue. The victim that was trapped for over three hours in the hole was released the next day with only a few bruises and no major injuries.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.