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FEBRUARY 6, 2006


Quakerbridge Road,
Lawrence Township

From Thursday, February 2, through Monday, February, 6, 2006, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers were very busy. A total of 14 alarms were received during that time, including four working fires, a motor vehicle extrication, and two cover assignments.

An accident in which a tractor-trailer overturned, trapping the driver, kept emergency crews from Lawrence and West Windsor townships busy on Monday, February 6, 2006.

The accident occurred shortly before 10:15 a.m. on Quakerbridge Road

The tractor-trailer, being driven by a 35-year-old man, was in the process of making a left turn from Clarksville Road onto eastbound Quakerbridge Road when the trailer’s load of tree stumps and branches apparently shifted and the entire rig flipped onto its right side.

(The rig had been on its way to a business on Bakers Basin Road to have the load turned into mulch.)

The trailer came to rest against a utility pole, heavily damaging the pole near its base. The driver, who suffered serious injuries, was trapped inside the tractor cab. Much of the load of tree stumps spilled out of the trailer onto the lawn in front of the KC Prime Steakhouse.

Because Quakerbridge Road forms the border between Lawrence Township and West Windsor Township, 911 calls about the accident went to both municipalities.

Initially, it was believed that the crash had occurred in West Windsor, so at 10:15 a.m. Princeton Junction Fire Co. (Station 44), West Windsor Fire Co. (Station 43), and West Windsor Emergency Services (Station 45) were all dispatched.

Telesquirt 43 and Ambulance 145-2, staffed with career firefighters from West Windsor Emergency Services, both responded at 10:16 a.m.

Telesquirt 43 and Ambulance 145-2 both arrived on the scene at 10:18 a.m. and reported that the accident was actually in Lawrence Township and that there was definite entrapment.

Thus, at 10:22 a.m., Mercer County Central Communications Center dispatched Rescue 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co.

At 10:23 p.m. Lawrenceville Capt. Butch Bentley responded. Advised that West Windsor units were on location confirming entrapment, Bentley ordered Mercer County Central to tone out Rescue 22 from Lawrence Road Fire Co. and Rescue 21 from Slackwood Fire Co.

Both Rescue 22 and Rescue 21 were dispatched at 10:24 a.m.

Rescue 43 responded 10:24 a.m., followed by Rescue 44, Rescue 22, Rescue 23, and Rescue 21 all at 10:25 a.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe, driven by Paid Driver Robert Santello, and manned by Ff. Ed Budzinski, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., and Ff. Steven Amiott.

Bentley arrived on scene at 10:24 a.m., followed seconds later by Lawrence Road Capt. Shaun Dlabik, who had been nearby when West Windsor units were first dispatched to the crash.

Special Operations 45, whose response time was not logged, arrived at 10:27 a.m.

Director 45 James Yates and Lawrenceville Chief Dave Burns both arrived at 10:28 a.m.

Rescue 44 and Rescue 43 both reached the scene at 10:29 a.m., followed by Rescue 22, Rescue 23 and Rescue 21 all at 10:31 a.m.

Telesquirt 43 took a position on Quakerbridge Road at the rear of the overturned tractor-trailer and its crew stretched a 1.75-inch hoseline for protection.

All the other apparatus were staged in the KC Prime parking lot and were ordered to send their manpower with portable rescue tools up to the scene.

Rescue 22’s crew was also ordered to stretch an additional 1.75-inch hoseline to protect the front of the tractor-trailer. Budzinski volunteered to man the hoseline.

The remaining members of Rescue 22’s crew set up their Holmatro rescue tools and then went to work setting up the “Junkyard Dog” struts to help stabilize the front of the overturned tractor cab as extrication efforts were made.

West Windsor firefighters, assisted by Rescue 21’s crew and Dlabik, used a variety of tools (including Rescue 22’s Holmatro Combi-Tool and O-Cutter) to cut the roof of the cab and flap it down to allow EMS personnel access to the trapped driver.

The man was finally freed from the wreckage at 10:47 a.m. He was removed to a waiting Lawrence Township Emergency Medical Service ambulance and rushed to the trauma unit at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton.

Once at the hospital, doctors discovered that the man had suffered a possible paralyzing spinal injury. The man was later flown by medical helicopter to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia for specialist care.

A small spill of hydraulic fluid from the overturned rig was attended to by Special Ops 45’s crew. PSE&G was called out to attend to the damaged utility pole. (A utility rope from Rescue 22 was used to tie off the pole as a temporary measure to help keep it from falling.)

Once the extrication was completed, all units were recalled except for Rescue 23.

Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 11:06 a.m. and went available at 11:08 a.m. to refuel at the Lawrence Township public works garage.

Eastbound Quakerbridge Road remained closed to traffic for about seven hours while the spilled load of tree stumps was removed, the big rig uprighted and the damaged utility pole fixed.

14 Runs:

02/02 – 06:32 hrs. – Lawrence: Brunswick Pike & Whitehead Road
Accident: Two cars and a school bus with a traffic light pole toppled; three patients transported by EMS.

02/02 – 08:13 hrs. – Lawrence: 51 Lawrenceville-Pennington Road
Fire Alarm Activation: Caused by burnt toast; no fire.

03/03 – 10:06 hrs. – Ewing: 13 Rockland Road
Structure Fire: Working fire in the basement of a one-story dwelling.

03/03 – 11:16 hrs. – Ewing: 932 Lower Ferry Road (Homasote Co.)
Structure Fire: Machinery fire in basement of recycling plant.

03/03 – 11:33 hrs. – Lawrence: 2525 Princeton Pike (Lawrence High School)
Fire Alarm Activation: System malfunction.

03/03 –11:39 hrs. – Ewing: Station 32 (Pennington Road Fire Co.)
Cover Assignment: Rescue 22 covered Station 32 during Homasote fire.

02/04 – 04:38 hrs. – Princeton Township: Station 63 (Mercer Engine 3)
Cover Assignment: Engine 22 covered Station 63 during Palmer Square fire.

02/04 – 15:42 hrs. – Lawrence: Interstate 95
Accident: Overturned car; no entrapment.

02/04 – 22:03 hrs. – Hopewell Township: 163 Blackwell Road
Structure Fire: Two-story home heavily involved in fire.

02/05 – 02:52 hrs. – Hopewell Township: 163 Blackwell Road
Structure Fire: Small rekindle of earlier fire.

02/05 – 05:52 hrs. – Pennington Borough: 306 Hale Street
Structure Fire: Heavy fire in rear addition of one-story dwelling.

02/05 – 06:00 hrs. – Pennington Borough: Station 51 (Pennington Fire Co.)
Stand-By Assignment: Engine 22 dispatched for cover, then recalled.

02/05 – 20:25 hrs. – Lawrence: 93 Irwin Place
Smoke Condition: Faulty oil burner; heavy smoke in house; no fire.

02/06 – 10:24 hrs. – Lawrence: Quakerbridge Road at Grovers Mill Road
Accident: Overturned tractor-trailer with driver trapped.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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