May 13, 2020 23:20
At 11:09 a.m. today, Station 22 and a Battalion Chief were dispatched to a semi-truck auto shop at 7201 N Marine Dr. for a worker whose hand was trapped in the frame of a tractor. When the dispatched crews arrived, they found a worker sitting on the tail end of a tractor near the trailer connection; one hand was wedged in the metal frame just above the wrist. As the crews assessed the situation and provided supportive care, information was being relayed to the Tech Rescue Team responding from Station 1 and 12. The Tech Rescue Team is a group of 16 firefighters who are cross-trained to provide rescue support to situations that require the use of special tools and protocols (confined space, rope, machinery, etc.). Due to the severity of entrapment a surgical team from OHSU was also consulted regarding the possibility of a field amputation. This would later be determined unnecessary.
Several options were considered by the team in order to free the hand. Eventually it was decided that a powerful torch cutting tool, called a plasma cutter, would be used to cut several inches of thick steel. Due to his experience with this type of tool, an auto shop co-worker who had volunteered made the difficult cut. Station 22 firefighters deployed hose lines to protect the worker in case the plasma cutter, which burns at over 2,000 degrees, possibly caught any nearby materials on fire. Tech Rescue Team members then used a hydraulic rescue tool called the ram to spread the semi frame apart. To prevent the metal from closing back again another team slowly pounded wooden wedges into the space created.
Just over an hour and a half later, at 12:41 p.m., the worker was freed. He was then loaded onto a gurney by paramedics from American Medical Response and taken to the Trauma Team at Legacy Emanuel Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries to his hand and wrist.
“This was an amazing display of smart firefighters and co-workers here working through a complex problem. I am so impressed with our team’s ability to create a good outcome with so many things working against them.” said Portland Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Ryan Johnson. “Our awards committee will be hearing about this co-worker today!” he said, referring to the complicated cutting process.
Below is a link to a short video clip of the rescue. Lt. Andy Clark of the Tech Rescue Team is seen explaining the rescue: Tech Rescue Video Link