LAFD Handles Dramatic Van Nuys Trench Rescue

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 |

On Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 9:55 AM, six Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Heavy Rescue, one Urban Search and Rescue Unit, two EMS Battalion Captains, two Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and one Division Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Assistant Chief Roderick Garcia responded to a Trench Rescue in the 5300 block of Woodman Avenue in the south Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.

The first Company arrived quickly at the front yard of a large two-story home under construction to find one adult male trapped in an excavation.

The twenty-five year-old man was reportedly constructing a sanitary sewer line in the front yard of the unoccupied home when the walls of the trench he was in suddenly gave way.

Firefighters discovered the man conscious but disoriented, three feet below ground level, entrapped at a 45-degree angle with only his head and one shoulder exposed.

The nearby major street was quickly closed to all vehicle traffic and additional LAFD resources staged at a distance as a perimeter was secured to minimize vibration and soil movement.

With trench edge protection and speed shoring quickly applied, Firefighters began initial confined space operations by laying ground ladders across the narrow channel as they worked briskly with their bare hands and later hand tools in a strategic fashion to remove the first of hundreds of pounds of damp soil from the victim's upper body.

Oxygen was applied and intravenous solutions made ready within the confines of the trench as LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics offered the listless man both verbal reassurance and constant human contact pending the arrival of additional personnel.

Click to view slideshow...

An LAFD Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Company soon arrived with specially trained staff and equipment necessary for the safe and rapid extrication of the victim.

Now deep within the trench and adroitly using a pair of high-velocity pneumatic hand held Air Knife tools attached to soil vacuums, Firefighters moved the dirt away in a swift and almost surgical fashion, allowing them to free the man less than thirty minutes after the first 9-1-1 call was received.

Click to view slideshow...

The disoriented patient, in critical condition, was placed immediately on a backboard to immobilize his spine, and transported by LAFD ambulance to the Trauma Center at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

No other injuries were reported.

Questions regarding the presence, need or injured man's use of safety equipment and approved worksite procedures remain within the purview of Cal-OSHA officials, who are actively investigating this incident.

VIDEO: (raw feed) (story package)
IMAGE: (slideshow 1) (slideshow 2) (gallery 1) (gallery 2)

Images courtesy of Battalion Chief Evan Williams, Battalion 14

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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Anonymous said...

You guys totally rock.

Anonymous said...

If the excavation was 5 feet or deeper, I hope his employer has to pay the cost of all those rescue personnel.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Dear Anonymous:

That's something that people often ask us about.

Please know that the Los Angeles Fire Department is only authorized (and is in fact required) to seek payment from or on behalf of a patient when medical treatment and/or transportation is provided - and only then for treatment and transportation at a rate approved by our City Council.

Any decision to pursue penal or civil penalties against a person (or entity) related to the Fire Department's response would fall under the purview of our friends at the City Attorney's office.

I hope this information helps.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

Just glad you guys were there to help.

Thank You for your service!

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