Rescuing someone who’s fallen into a trench isn’t as simple or as easy as hopping into the trench, and attaching a rope to them to pull them out. The California Regional Task Force-6 Urban Search and Rescue Team, with firefighters from around the county, held a trench rescue drill Tuesday, January 14, behind Fire Station 42 in Landers. In Tuesday’s scenario, a Hi-Desert Water District backhoe dug a trench 60 feet long, 8 feet deep, and two feet wide. A dummy, filling in for a worker, fell into a T-intersection of the trench, and needed to be rescued. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at the drill and explains how the team safely and successfully performed the rescue…


“They have to find where the victim is, the point last seen.” County Fire Captain Mark Murphy and Urban Search and Rescue team member, said rescuers have to develop a plan on how to rescue the victim. “Equipment, more personnel, the number of personnel needed.” After building an edge system to ensure the edges of the trench don’t collapse under them, the rescuers insert support walls to hold up the sides of the trench. Then they use wooden beams, or sometimes hydraulic jacks, the width of the trench, as struts to hold the support walls in place. Meanwhile, the air quality is continually being monitored, and fresh air blown in, to be sure it’s safe for everyone. Murphy described trench rescues this way: “Low frequency, high risk;” they happen rarely, but are dangerous for both the victim and the rescuers. Safety instructor Glen Bales gave kudos to the team working the difficult rescue. “The bottom line is, you guys got the job done, you got it done safely, and you got him out.”

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