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.


The space that these efforts created allowed the medical team to extricate the victim’s torso. At that time, additional medical management could be accomplished while efforts continued to free the victim’s leg, which was far more entrapped in the remnants of the cab than had been expected or could have been visualized prior to the lift.

The efforts continued to free the victim’s leg. Using hand tools and hydraulic cutters, pieces of the cab were cut away. Knowing that much of the crane’s weight might be resting on the extended boom, extra caution was used when working around any hydraulic or fluid lines. Working locations were again limited by not knowing what effect the cutting of these lines could have on the crane’s position and stability.

Even with the extraordinary efforts made to release the victim, he succumbed to the injuries he sustained when the crane tipped and trapped him. The rescue phase of the incident had been active for more than 3½ hours.

At this time, the incident transitioned from a rescue operation to a recovery. The initial companies were relieved at the scene by other units that would complete the recovery operation. All of the responders working the rescue phase were taken to their firehouses where members of an incident debriefing team joined them to address post-incident situations. In addition to this level of responder care, the medical director spent the next day visiting the individual stations to talk with the responders about the call and to explain the magnitude of the incident as related to injuries and the efforts they put into rescuing the victim.

So many times we deal with this same outcome however, those situations are traditionally short periods of contact with the victims or the outcome was determined prior to our arrival. It is imperative that when we are in these unusual situations, we provide all of the involved responders with the highest level of care to help them through the post-incident feelings that occur.

Though the final outcome was not what anyone would have predicted, all involved in this response should be proud of the extreme efforts and professionalism they displayed during the entire incident.

  • See Bob Duemmel Live! Bob Duemmel and Dr. Jeremy Cushman will be presenting "Overturned Crane Challenges Responders," which further details this incident, at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, July 17 - 21. Bob will also be presenting   "The Latest In Specialized Rescue Tools" and "How To Submit To Firehouse" and hosting a live recording of The Buzz on Technical Rescue at the expo.


BOB DUEMMEL, the Technical Rescue Editor for Firehouse, is a captain with the Rochester, NY, Fire Department and serves as the plans manager for New York Task Force 2 (NY TF-2). He is a member of the NYS USAR IST in the Operations Section and a member of the New York State Technical Rescue curriculum development team. Duemmel has delivered training to fire service, industrial, military and international rescue teams and has assisted with exercise evaluation for the United Kingdom and the European Union’s USAR program. He is host of The Buzz on Technical Rescue on Firehouse Podcasts and can be reached at bob.duemmel@firehouse.com.