MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Firefighters of the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron at Minot Air Force Base performed a daring rescue in December which likely saved the life of a contractor.
The day, Dec. 11, 2009, started out as your typical morning at the fire station. After going over the daily tasks, all of the firefighters started training in the unit's classroom. Shortly thereafter, that's when the call came across the radio. As everyone scrambled to put their gear on and startup the trucks, they heard what the situation was: An individual had fallen approximately 8 feet into an excavation site off Glacier Drive in base housing.
"All I could think was why me?" said Nick Reynolds, a contractor involved in the new construction in base housing and the individual who fell the unbelievable distance during the excavation project.
His company was conducting sewer-burst dig procedures to help reinforce some polyurethane piping. He repositioned a ladder they were using in the construction to make it safer to use. "It just gave way and threw me back 6-8 feet," he added.
A member of the fire department crew reflected on the events that went down that morning. He and his crew were responding to a call, just like any other call they were doing their duty.
"It was a warm 5 degrees out that morning," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Luetkemeyer, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department assistant chief of operations and the team lead that day. He said when they arrived on the scene, they saw the 10-foot deep hole the contractor had fallen into. "His co-workers were keeping him as still and warm as possible until we arrived to perform the rescue."
With security forces ensuring scene security, and medical technicians standing by, the 11 firefighters who responded to the scene quickly formulated a rescue plan. The plan began by lowering three firefighters into the pit in an effort to check the status of the victim. The crew said, "He was alert and oriented but in pain."
"I had landed on a rod box," Reynolds said. "My lower back, my legs, everything hurt to move. They threw blankets on me to help with the shivering and my back."
The responders then determined the most expedient and safest means to secure Reynolds for transport. They used a backboard and stokes basket. A system of ropes was utilized to lift him up a ladder which was placed at a 45-degree angle so he could be slid up. "This was a fairly unique rescue that worked perfectly in getting the victim to safety," Luetkemeyer said.
In all, it took less than an hour to get the Team Minot member to safety and after examination at Trinity Hospital he was cleared for duty. Reynolds returned to office duties the following Monday and after vacation he was able to get back to work at the site. The quick response and dedication to duty displayed by the emergency response team saved Reynolds from possible life-threatening injury.
"All of the emergency responders did an outstanding job in safely rescuing Mr. Reynolds," Luetkemeyer said. "I'm glad I have the privilege of working with such committed professionals."