Wash. DC Bravest Labor Over Trench Rescue

A grueling eight hour ordeal for both victims and firefighters alike ended successfully with the rescue of two men trapped in a Washington D.C. trench collapse.


A grueling eight hour ordeal for both victims and firefighters alike ended successfully with the rescue of two men trapped in a Washington D.C. trench collapse.

Firefighters responding to the initial call at about 3:15 pm on Friday, January 16th, found a pair of contract laborers trapped in an unshored trench they had dug to repair a water line. One was buried to his waist and the other up to the neck.

Members of D.C. Fire and EMS's Special Operations Command, assisted by units of the First and Fourth Battalions, immediately began efforts to shore up the unsupported hole, while EMS personnel began preparations to treat the victims. Due to the extended nature of the rescue, a "Go Team" of emergency room personnel was requested from the George Washington University Hospital.

Working in near zero wind chill temperatures, firefighters began the tedious task of slowly digging out the two victims, one of whom was removed within the first two hours. The second man, covered up to his neck, was finally extricated around eleven PM. Both were in remarkably good condition despite the circumstances of their entrapment.

The rescue effort taxed the combined resources of five engines, three trucks, two heavy rescues, two battalions, the special ops battalion chief, Firefighting Deputy, Hazmat Unit, Safety Officer, and numerous EMS units. A canteen and rehab bus, operation by the Friendship Fire Association buff club, also operated at the scene.

While this operation was progressing, D.C. firefighters were also kept busy with a second alarm and two other working fire incidents.