Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 25, 2013

Firefighters rescue man trapped in trench

No major injuries sustained in cave-in

by Glenn Wohltmann

A worker is safe after being trapped for more than 45 minutes when a trench collapsed on him last week.

The Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department was called to the scene on Blakemore Court at about 3:40 p.m. Oct. 17. The worker was up to his chest when the trench walls caved in on him; by the time rescuers arrived, his coworkers had dug him out to his stomach, but were ordered out of the trench because it was unstable.

"The walls of the trench were shored up using specialized equipment carried by the fire department," Jack Neiman-Kimel, LPFD battalion chief, said in a news release. "This equipment kept the walls from further sloughing off allowing the victim to be removed from the trench."

The victim did not sustain any major injuries and no firefighters were hurt in the rescue. In all, three engines, one truck, two rescue units, one ambulance, one battalion chief, two deputy fire chiefs and a utility unit responded to the scene.

Neiman-Kimel said the man was on a crew brought in to dig out a pool that had been filled in, and that the trench was apparently not properly braced.

"Trenches at construction sites usually follow strict guidelines to make the work environment safe but can still become unstable and cave in," Neiman-Kimel said in the release. "Trenches are deeper than they are wide which is the reason the walls can cave in and injure someone inside the trench."

LPFD firefighters receive annual training in confined space rescues, as required by the state. Trench rescues are cited by national organizations as one of the most dangerous rescue operations firefighters face because of the possibility of further collapse.

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