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OCTOBER 28, 2004

CONFINED SPACE RESCUE

St. Ann's Church, 1253 Lawrence Road,
Lawrence Township


On Thursday, October 28, 2004, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers helped rescue a man who was injured at the construction site for the Faith Development Center being built behind St. Ann’s Church. Rescue 22’s stokes basket and Ladder Tower 23 were used to lift the injured man from about 20 feet below grade.

The accident occurred about 11 a.m. at the construction site behind the church at 1253 Lawrence Road where the 38-year-old man was working.

Groundbreaking for the multimillion dollar building began in June 2003 and the project was scheduled to be finished by the summer of 2005. However, at the time only the foundation and lower level were partially in place.

The man was working amid the concrete walls of what would eventually become the basement when he fell off what police described as a “makeshift scaffolding.” Employed by a company from Merchantville, N.J., the man was in the process removing some foam-like insulation from the recently-poured concrete walls when the scaffolding gave way and he fell about 10 feet to the ground, police said.

Co-workers called 911. Police officers, the Lawrence First Aid Squad duty crew, and a paramedic unit from Capital Health System rushed to the site. When the 38-year-old complained of numbness in one of his legs, EMS personnel became worried that he had suffered serious internal injuries.

Because the only way in or out of the basement was by climbing a ladder and it was too dangerous to move the man that way, help was summoned from Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies.

It was 11:07 a.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 22-10 and dispatched both companies.

Rescue 22 signed on radio at 11:09 a.m. with Lt. Shaun Dlabik in command, Paid Driver Robert Santello driving and Ff. Evan Kutzin and Ff. Ryan Dlabik as crew. Rescue 22 reached the scene at 11:10 a.m.

Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Justin Squibb, meanwhile, walked with their gear the one block from the firehouse to the scene to assist Rescue 22’s crew.

Ladder Tower 23 signed on radio at 11:10 a.m. and arrived at 11:14 a.m.

Shaun Dlabik, who assumed incident command, advised Mercer County Central that he had an injured construction worker trapped about 20 feet below grade.

After climbing a ladder down to the bottom of the basement area, Lawrence Road firefighters worked with Squad 129 members to package the injured man. A cervical collar was placed around his neck and he was secured to a backboard from Rescue 22. He was then placed into the stokes basket from Rescue 22.

Ladder Tower 23, meanwhile, was moved into a position on Eldridge Avenue where its 102-foot aerial could be extended and its bucket brought into a place above the patient. The stokes basket was then attached to the underside of Ladder Tower 23’s bucket using a four-point harness. Two guidelines were also secured, one to the head of the stokes basket and the other to the basket’s foot.

Once everything was double-checked, Ladder Tower 23’s aerial was slowly raised to life the stokes basket from the partially-constructed basement. Shaun Dlabik and Kutzin remained below grade to man the guidelines to keep the stokes basket under control and stop it from swinging as it was raised.

Meanwhile, Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Squibb waited above in an open area. Once the stokes basket was high enough to clear the walls, Ladder Tower 23 maneuvered it to the clearing and Dlabik and Squibb reached out and guided it to the ground.

At 11:40 a.m. Shaun Dlabik notified Mercer County Central that the patient had been removed from the basement area. Shaun Dlabik, Joseph Dlabik and Squibb, assisted by some construction workers, then carried the stokes basket holding he injured man to a waiting ambulance.

He was then transported to Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton. After being examined and being found to have suffered no serious injuries, he was released. He returned to the work site later that afternoon.

Rescue 22 and Ladder Tower 23 left the scene at 11:50 a.m. Rescue 22 was in quarters two minutes later.

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