Maryland Crews Rescue Worker Trapped in Trench

NEW MARKET, Md. – A construction worker trapped up to his neck in water is recovering Wednesday thanks to the quick-thinking of responders and trench rescue teams.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Pennsylvania man was working on a line in a trench in Frederick County when the 12-inch main broke leaving his left leg pinned and the space quickly filling with water.

“A couple of our volunteers jumped on the brush truck knowing access may not be easy. But, it was their quick actions that left us a viable patient,” explained New Market District Fire Chief Ben Nalborczyk. “They started drafting from the trench to divert the water away from him.”

They got him on a SCBA as they were setting up the draft, the chief said adding that the man was still pinned by the pipe and debris after the water was diverted.

Once the trench was shored up, Paramedic Mike Cole donned PPE, and went to the patient’s side. He established an IV, and monitored him while the work around the site continued.

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Frederick County ATR team members called for assistance, and specially trained crews from Montgomery and Howard counties responded to assist. Patient care in the trench was taken over by another medic with expertise in technical rescue EMS.

Nalborczyk said the team took their time with the operation, placing plywood, cribbing and ground pads to make sure the area was safe.

“He was conscious throughout the ordeal. He was screaming in pain whenever there was movement around him,” the chief said.

The ‘Go Team’ from R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma responded as well, and stood by in case they needed to amputate the victim’s leg. Luckily, their services were not needed.

Crews decided to dig a path rather than hoist the man out of the 8-10 foot deep trench.

“It took three hours and 29 minutes to get it done,” Nalborczyk told in a telephone interview Wednesday morning adding that the man was flown by state police helicopter to the trauma center.

“It was teamwork from everyone -- volunteers, career and technical rescue teams that did it. People worked well together…”

The chief said it was obvious from the beginning the incident was going to require additional resources. Incident command was established, and officers took various roles.

He is currently working on establishing a critique.

“With everything that we did yesterday, I really praise that first group on the brush truck. Without them doing what they did, we would have had a recovery, not a rescue.”