St. Paul Firefighter Goes Inverted to Rescue Trapped Worker

A St. Paul firefighter dangled upside down to rescue a worker who fell in a 12-foot-deep hole at a light-rail transit construction site near the Capitol on Monday, Aug. 20.

The rescue had to be performed from overhead because the earth was very soft and the fire department feared the hole would collapse if anyone approached, said Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.

The worker was taken to a hospital but did not appear seriously injured.

“The initial reaction is, ‘Let’s get in there and get him out, reach down and get him,’ but anybody approaching the hole would have just fallen in on top of him,” Zaccard said, explaining why firefighters approached the rescue as they did.

The fire department was called at 10:09 a.m. to University Avenue and Park Street for a trench rescue. A man who appeared to be in his 20s was conscious and standing in the hole, Zaccard said.

The worker had been running a machine digging the 3-feet-wide hole, Zaccard said. The man got out to inspect the hole, and the edge gave way as he approached.

The fire department’s advanced-tactical rescue team and other firefighters used ropes to lower firefighter Mike Aspnes, who was wearing a harness, into the hole headfirst from an aerial bucket so he could hand the victim a harness, Zaccard said. Other firefighters then hoisted both men out, Zaccard said.

Paramedics treated the worker at the scene and took him to Regions Hospital, Zaccard said. The man was working for Walsh Construction, which has a contract for the east part of the Central Corridor project, said Deborah Ely-Lawrence, Central Corridor LRT project spokeswoman.

“I think the fire department should be lauded for the great work they did,” said Ely-Lawrence, who witnessed the rescue. “They basically tethered a firefighter into the hole. He was upside-down and he helped to pull the gentleman out of the hole. It was a brave and just phenomenal rescue.”

The man’s family also sent their thanks to the firefighters.

No posts to display