SEATTLE – On Dec. 14 just after 11 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to the 3800 Block of 39th Ave. S. for a private company construction worker who was trapped in a trench and needed rescuing. Engine 30 and Ladder 12 arrived first on scene and found an adult male pinned against the foundation of a house by an old cement staircase that had collapsed approximately 8-10 feet in the ditch. Prior to SFD arrival, a few neighbors heard the man yelling and stepped in to help by utilizing boards to help pry the cement stairs away from the patient, taking some of the pressure off.
Crews worked quickly to put a plan into place to begin removing the cement pile off of the man. They placed a ladder over the trench and lowered a rope, wrapping it around the cement block, and began to twist the rope to slowly move it off of him. Simultaneously, firefighters dug with their hands and shovels to remove the dirt that had piled around him. Rescue 1 arrived on scene and began to put shoring equipment in place, to stabilize the trench on both sides. This helped to ensure improved safety for firefighters working in the trench.
After about 30 minutes, the patient was extricated and transported by paramedics to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition. Trench rescues are a low frequency, high risk event, and require an immense amount of technical skill to safely conduct a rescue. Due to the crew’s efficient work of securing the trench area and freeing the trapped patient, he only sustained non-life threatening injuries.