Crane Flips Over & Pins Operator Under Crushed Cab

A report of an overturned crane brought multiple agencies and resources together. The challenges consisted of: accessibility, the instability of the crane, and entrapment. Read how the incident was mitigated.

Patient Contact

Once the initial companies made contact with the crane and its operator, Firefighter Lucas Falkner from Engine 17 established patient contact and maintained that position for the balance of the incident. As paramedics from the city’s contract ambulance provider arrived, one of their members, along with Dr. Jeremy Cushman, the department’s medical director, took charge of the EMS component of the incident. Due to the position of the crane and the magnitude of the entrapment, many medical situations came into play. One of the first areas addressed was the potential of crush injury and the internal injuries and crush syndrome issues that it presents. (Learn more about crush syndrome on the September 2011 Buzz on Technical Rescue podcast with Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Dush.)

Lieutenant Shaun Murray from Rescue 11 took command of the rescue operations. The initial size-up identified that the crane was situated in a position that allowed access from only one side. Complicating the operation was the location of a fluid tank on the crane’s undercarriage directly above the trapped operator. While evaluating the situation, it was determined it would create too much of a delay to remove the tank’s fluids and the tank itself. Also, it was not known what structural materials were under the tank, so the decision was made to leave it intact and continue with the current plan of operation.

In an effort to stabilize the crane and remove the trapped operator, cribbing and two 30-ton bottle jacks were positioned at either end of the crane. The initial lift with the bottle jacks caused the crane to shift slightly. At that time, the operation adjusted to the situation with the decision being made to use Griphoist systems to secure the crane in its current position prior to additional lifting. These are mechanical systems that can lift, pull and secure heavy loads using wire rope. The units, along with various slings, shackles and chains, were used to capture and secure the crane so that the lifting operation to remove the victim would not create a situation where the crane would shift in any direction.

A request had been placed through the Monroe County Fire Bureau for additional resources. The Henrietta and Bushnell Basin fire departments were requested for the use of their specialized rigging equipment. Each of these departments had Griphoist systems on its rescue apparatus.

To complete this component of the operation, members of the two county departments teamed up with RFD members to accomplish the set up of these systems. Again, the past efforts of working together paid off. Many of these individuals had trained together during a nine-month structural collapse program at the county’s training facility in 2009.

Due to distances to substantial anchors, responders also reached out to the contractors working on the site for help. They brought in volumes of additional rigging slings, chains and shackles to make this all possible. Their knowledge of rigging was an additional on-scene resource.

When possible and appropriate, using civilians associated with the incident provides a good psychological benefit to those on scene. With one of their coworkers trapped, the anxiety of the event can be overwhelming, so being able to assist with the operation does much good for these individuals. Always remember to evaluate the decision prior to implementing.

Lifting Phase Begins

Once the crane was secured, the decision was made to proceed with the lifting phase. As the crews lifted the crane, additional cribbing was positioned to maintain a safe working environment. Due to the inability to obtain additional vantage points, a SearchCam 3000 was deployed to let rescuers obtain visual images in remote locations. The 240-degree rotating head on the unit gave the team multiple views of the entrapment. Obtaining this valuable information would not have been possible without advanced equipment of this type on scene.