Pa. Firefighters Pull Man From Trench

BALDWIN BOROUGH, Pa. -- Emergency responders pulled a man out of a trench that police said collapsed on him Friday afternoon in Baldwin Borough. Channel 4 Action News' Ashlie Hardway reported that the man was waist-deep in...


BALDWIN BOROUGH, Pa. --

Emergency responders pulled a man out of a trench that police said collapsed on him Friday afternoon in Baldwin Borough.

Channel 4 Action News' Ashlie Hardway reported that the man was waist-deep in dirt and mud in the yard of a house on Sagebrush Drive, unable to move for about two hours.

Sky 4 flew over the scene, where firefighters, police and people wearing hard hats were gathered around a hole in the ground that was surrounded by dirt and rubble.

Rescue crews load Brian Cahill into an ambulance

The man -- identified as 48-year-old Brian Cahill -- was eventually strapped onto a board and pulled above ground to safety. He was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to a hospital.

"He was in pain -- leg pain, some chest pain, a little anxious just because he was claustrophobic in the hole. He was about 8 feet down, so he wanted out of the hole, basically," said Lt. Martin Mayer, of Baldwin EMS.

Alvin Henderson, assistant chief for Allegheny County Emergency Services, said crush syndrome was a concern because it can set in almost immediately as the weight of the dirt cuts off circulation to the legs and lower extremities.

"When you're working in a trench like that, there is a huge concern that we have with the stability of the trench walls that any time you start having a primary and then a secondary collapse of the trench walls, those walls can collapse at any time," said Henderson.

Fluids were given to the man as a precaution while he was stuck, Henderson said.

Police Chief Michael Scott said the man is one of five people who were digging a trench in the back yard of the home. They are not professionals and were doing work to help the homeowner, Scott said.

Hardway reported that Cahill was working to install a French drain when the walls came down on a trench that was 6 feet deep and 4 feet wide, trapping him at chest level.

His friends worked to dig him free until rescue crews arrived.

"It's a hand operation to dig around the patient, to try and get all the dirt removed from the patient and then safely and efficiently get him packaged up into a Stokes basket and then pulled up from that area," said Henderson.

OSHA investigators were also investigating the accident and have regulations that all trench work must have a trench box or shoring walls to guard against accidents.

OSHA has not said if the men, who are not professional contractors, will be fined.

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