26-year old Cody Hermeling is lucky to be alive.
Video courtesy of KOIN Local 6
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Just after 6:20 pm on September 2, 2010, a vehicle traveling northbound on Highway 30 hit Cody’s Subaru head-on, causing Cody’s vehicle to be propelled into a nearby ditch. Cody’s vehicle came to rest on the driver’s side, pinning him in the front driver’s side seat while the car crumpled around him. Cody was knocked unconscious and sustained significant injuries.
Cody's vehicle after the extrication process.
Truck 22 and Engine 22 were immediately dispatched to the scene, knowing only they were responding to a two-car motor vehicle accident. Arriving in just under four minutes, Captain Eric and Firefighters Jeff, Jon, and Chris from Truck 22 and Lieutenant Bill and Firefighters Brian, Keith, and Aaron from Engine 22 immediately assessed the situation.
Crews from PF&R’s Engine 6, and Squad 1 as well as Portland Police Officers also arrived quickly, staging on Highway 30 to protect the patients and first responders operating on the scene and assist with the extrication.
Lieutenant Dan and Firefighters Steve, Tony, and Dan from Squad 1 joined the crews from Truck 22 and Engine 22 to begin the vehicle stabilization and extrication process of removing the severely damaged Subaru from around Cody. They first stabilized the Subaru using ropes and a technique called “cribbing.” Cribbing helps to stabilize the vehicle against unwanted movement by transferring the vehicle’s weight off its suspension and onto the cribbing. This aids in preventing movement of the vehicle which could have further injured Cody.
Once the Subaru had been stabilized, the extrication process began. Using the hydraulic rescue “HOLMATRO tools” stored on Truck 22, the crews carefully worked together to remove the Subaru’s roof and steering wheel. The HOLMATRO tool, also know as the “Jaws of Life,” is capable of producing considerable pushing, pulling, and cutting force.
The HOLMATRO tool was then placed inside the door frame and extended to push the dash away from Cody. Cody was carefully and slowly extricated from the Subaru and placed on a long board for transfer to the waiting ambulance. Cody was admitted to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in North Portland and was listed in critical condition.
For weeks, Cody laid in a coma in the ICU and trauma units with traumatic injuries to his head and body. Cody endured multiple surgeries and suffered severe internal injuries. His parents, Kathleen and Terry, stayed by his side, ever vigilant.
Cody’s accident was one of the worst motor vehicle pin-in accidents the firefighters had ever seen. Typically, once a patient is in the ambulance and being transported, that is the last contact firefighters and police have with the patients. In this case, it was important to the firefighters involved to follow up with Cody’s family and lend their support.
A week later, Lieutenant Bill and Firefighters Brian, Keith, and Aaron from Engine 22 decided to check in on Cody and his family at the hospital. Although Cody continued to be in a coma, the crew met with Cody’s mother and pledged their support to her son’s full recovery.
Cody began to stabilize, slowly coming out of the coma. He gradually began to be awake and alert for longer and longer periods of time. In late November, Cody was moved to a rehabilitation facility to begin therapy to regain mental and physical skills. Although Cody continued to suffer an internal ocular trauma that has left him blind at this time, he hasn’t waivered in his commitment to return to life as normal.
(Left) Cody shakes Firefighter Chris's hand, thanking him for his service.
(Right) Cody's mother Kathleen presents a thank you card and present to firefighters.
Two weeks ago, Cody was discharged from the hospital returned home with his family. To aid in his recovery, Cody and his mom and dad decided to contact the Truck 22 and Engine 22 crews housed at Fire Station 22 in order to thank them for their quick actions at the scene.
(Left) Cody hugs and shows his gratitude for the two Portland Police Officers first on-scene.
(Right) Cody stands proud next to Lieutenant Bill, Engine 22.
On Sunday, January 2, 2011, Cody, his parents, and family and friends traveled to Station 22 for a hearty brunch with the crew that helped save his life on that September day.
Cody thanks Station 22 Firefighters for helping to save his life.
Cody arrived and used a walker to make his way into the fire station. The firefighters at Station 22 gathered around Cody and his parents to exchange handshakes and hugs. The amount of hope in the room for Cody to make a full recovery was felt by everyone.
Portland Fire & Rescue wishes Cody that each day finds him feeling better in his road to recovery!
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
January 5, 2011