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Deputy Fire Chief Details Complicated Rescue

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May 022013

The demolished bucket under which a man was trapped on Tuesday.

The demolished bucket under which a man was trapped on Tuesday.

The Orange Volunteer Fire Department is made up of highly trained 100% volunteer man (and woman) power.  At any time day or night, the volunteer firefighters drop whatever they are doing to respond to all sorts of calls.

On Tuesday, April 30, around 12:11 p.m., the Fire Department was called to 513 Kanuga Trail on a report of a large residential propane tank that was leaking after it was struck by a tree.

Deputy Fire Chief John Knight was the fire officer in command. He spoke to Orange Live about the incident the following day.

“The call we got was for a tree that had fallen on a propane tank, the dispatch was not for a tree on a person,” he said. “It was Fire Marshal Tim Smith who made it known to us that a person was trapped under the tree.”

When the Fire Department arrived, the police, AMR and Tim Smith were already there, and indeed a tree had fallen and a person was trapped under it.

“There were a couple of other issues going on: a propane tank that supplies the house with fuel had been knocked over by the tree and was leaking; the tree had gone through the roof of the house,” Knight said, “But the fire department’s main concern was the victim that was trapped under the tree.”

He said this was a situation where the firefighters had to develop a plan by seeing what equipment they had available that could be of use.

Mike’s Towing was on scene, so they put a strap around the tree to make sure it wouldn’t move any further; the fire department used its air bags to raise the tree off the bucket (from the tree trimming truck) that had landed on the victim; and a Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life) was used to lift the bucket off the victim so he could be removed.

“We’ve had complicated calls before and no two are the same. This was definitely a complicated call, but the training that we’ve done with the equipment that we have is what helped this call have a successful outcome,” he said. “There’s no book you can go to for instructions on what to do, you just have to rely on the training you do with the equipment you have and know your personnel.”

“That’s what we did. We had our trained personnel and we accomplished what we needed to do,” he said. “I haven’t heard about the patient’s condition, but we all hope he is okay.”

The last we had on the victim was that he was in critical, but stable condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital. We’re not sure of the extent of his injuries.

From the original story:

Contractors were removing a tree at a private residence and made a cut in the tree top about 20-feet up.
When it became apparent that the tree as not going to fall in the right direction, the arborist in the bucket (you know the kind on the work trucks) tried to get out of the way and either jumped, was thrown, or fell from the bucket.

The worker landed on the ground, the bucket landed on top of him, pinning his lower extremities (legs) and the tree landed on top of the bucket trapping the man.

The tree also knocked over one of two large residential propane tanks causing a leak and a potentially dangerous situation. Electricity to the home had to be turned off for safety reasons.

Smith said the extrication was complicated, because of the different layers of danger (propane tank leak, unstable tree, injured worker) the rescuers had to plan everything strategically and move things carefully all at once and it took about 40 minutes to complete.

AMR and a Doctor from Yale (Sharps Team) monitored the patient during the ordeal, then accompanied him to the hospital. The Public Works Department was brought in to help and was ready to jump in as needed.

The Woodbridge Volunteer FD stood by at Station 1 and Milford firefighters stood by at Station 2 in the event of another emergency in town while Orange volunteer firefighters were on Kanuga Trail.

Officers from the Orange Police Investigative Services Unit (ISU), interviewed the man’s co-workers and were working on the initial report, but the entire investigation will be turned over to OSHA.