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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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NEWS RELEASE 1/16/13: Woman Rescued After Being Trapped Between Two Portland Buildings

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This morning at 3:46 am, Portland Firefighters responded to reports that a woman was trapped between a 20' tall wall and a building.  Firefighters from Station 4 (Portland State University) arrived and found that the woman had fallen from the top of the wall and become wedged in an 8" wide space between the building and the wall.  The person was stuck with her head up and her feet approximately 3 feet from the ground.  She was conscious and was talking to firefighters when they arrived.

The way that the woman was wedged into the space prohibited firefighters from lifting her up and out.  Firefighters at this point called for Portland Fire & Rescue's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team, which is based at Station 1 (Old Town).  USAR is called in for situations that involve locating, extricating, and the initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces.  This team trains specifically for these situations and they have the specialized tools necessary to effect this type of rescue.

The USAR Team arrived and determined that the wall would need to be "breached" or opened in order to reach the patient.  A large heater was used to try to increase the air temperature in the space to keep the woman warm while firefighters worked.  The outside temperature was approximately 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Large jack hammers and concrete saws were used to create openings on each side of the woman.  These window sized holes created access points and allowed firefighters to more effectively assess the person.  The woman remained stable and firefighters worked to increase the size of one of the windows; effectively turning it into a door.  Both the woman's clothes and the walls were covered in a soapy substance to make it easier to slide her out.

The woman was then able, with the help of firefighters, to slide out of the space through the "door" that firefighters had created.  The person was clearly very happy to be free; she was moved to a waiting ambulance and transported to OHSU hospital.  The woman's name is not being released by Portland Fire & Rescue.  The events leading up to the woman's fall are unclear.

Images courtesy of PF&R Photographer Dick Harris

Contact info, for media use only:
Lt. Damon Simmons, Media Pager (503)940-6003