Md. firefighters rescue plumber trapped in trench

The man was alert and conscious when rescue personnel loaded him onto a stretcher to go to a hospital

The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. — A plumbing contractor working at a residential construction site in Myersville was trapped for several hours Tuesday after a trench caved in on him, fire officials said. 

Fire and rescue personnel rushed to the 1000 block of Hunters Knoll off Canada Hill Road at about 11:30 a.m., after a man was reported partially buried in a collapsed trench. The man was buried from his waist down in about 10 feet of rock and dirt until about 2:15 p.m. when crews managed to free him.

Rescues from cave-ins and confined spaces are always difficult because technical rescue experts don't want to risk another cave-in, said Capt. Kevin Fox, Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services spokesman.

"It can be a long, tedious process, but the last thing we want is for emergency rescue personnel to become trapped," Fox said. 

The man was alert and conscious when rescue personnel loaded him onto a stretcher and into the Maryland State Police helicopter Trooper 3 to be flown to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. 

Fox was not certain what the man's condition was but said he was complaining of hip and leg injuries. 

Michael Smith, who identified himself as a contractor with M.W. Willard Plumbing and Heating Co. out of Sharpsburg, said he was inside the foundation of the construction site when his coworker, whom he identified as a 26-year-old named Robert, started yelling.

"I heard him yell for help, so I ran out of the house, I ran out of the foundation and I saw that he was buried up to his chest," Smith said. "So I started digging with my hands until I freed his chest and then I called 911."

Smith said the man was working on the home's sewer system when the trench caved in. 

"He seemed OK when I was talking to him, just in pain," Smith said. 

The biggest danger in such rescues, Fox said, is from crush injuries and if a patient's circulation is cut off or disrupted due to the pressure of the ground on top of him. Technical rescue crews from Frederick, Washington and Montgomery counties responded to the call. 

The Frederick County Sheriff's Office is investigating, and the Maryland division of Occupational Safety and Health  assisted at the scene.

Copyright 2014 The Frederick News-Post
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