At 11:23 a.m. today, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews responded to a report of a trapped pipe fitter who was working in a trench 15 feet below ground on an undeveloped lot in the 13000 block of Southwest Roy Rogers Road in Sherwood. The worker was waist deep in gravel and soil.
The man was conscious and alert when firefighter paramedics arrived and began medical care as TVF&R's Technical Rescue Team worked to stabilize the trench and free him from the gravel.
Firefighter Paramedic Peter Lehmann is a member of TVF&R's Technical Rescue Team who spent a lot of time in the trench with the patient. "In addition to the planning and setup we're doing to rescue a trapped patient, we also monitor their vital signs and provide medical care in the trench. Being trapped is very frightening, and we try to bring calm to an otherwise chaotic environment."
Crews initially attempted to dig the man out by hand until a vacuum truck arrived to help remove gravel from the pit where he was trapped. Rescuers worked for 90 minutes to safely rescue the patient from the trench. Once he was free from the gravel, firefighter paramedics and paramedics from Metro West Ambulance evaluated him before he was flown by Life Flight air medical transport to an area hospital for additional treatment.
Lieutenant Jason Morgan was the Technical Rescue Team leader who helped establish the rescue priorities for all the firefighters working on scene. "During a trench rescue, we work slowly and methodically for the safety of the patient and firefighters. We establish multiple plans in case our initial efforts are unsuccessful. We often have to deal with unstable soil and confined spaces that are unsafe. In this instance, our first plan worked well."
Portland Fire & Rescue's Technical Rescue Team, who has a similar level of training and technical expertise, responded to the scene in the event that a responder became trapped. Life Flight, Metro West Ambulance, Beaverton Public Works, Sherwood Police Department, and Washington County Sherriff's Office also assisted with this incident.
TVF&R's Technical Rescue Team responds to structural collapses, confined space rescues, vehicle entrapments, and high-angle rescues. Team members train weekly on complicated scenarios and had been training mere hours earlier on a similar scenario.