DC Confined Space Rescue

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What began in Washington D.C. as a simple medical call in the morning hours of Sunday, September 28, turned into a complicated confined space rescue that required the efforts of all three of the nation's capital's rescue squads, its hazmat unit, and a number of other resources.

D.C. Engine 9, responding on the initial dispatch, discovered a man lying inside a crawl space beneath the garage area of a commercial building in the 2100 block of 14th Street N.W. The only access to this area was a 3x3 opening, and the crawl space itself was crowded with piping and partially filled with water.

Engine 9's officer rapidly sized up the situation as a confined space rescue and requested additional assistance. Special Ops personnel arriving on the rescue dispatch immediately took readings and quickly determined that the atmosphere in the confined area was incompatible with life. Efforts were quickly made to introduce fresh air into the hole, and Rescue Squad 1 firefighters suited up for entry. Climbing down thru the narrow access hole, Firefighter Chet Barrett confirmed that the victim was indeed DOA.

While awaiting the arrival of Metropolitan Police crime scene search officers and a medical examiner, a plan was developed to remove the victim using an A frame and pulley system. Firefighters conducting the final removal donned hazmat suits to avoid contamination.

The entire operation took several hours, and involved approximately 35 firefighting and EMS personnel. During that time, the victim's distraught family, who were on the scene, were constantly updated and provided comfort by D.C. Battalion Chief Kevin Sloane.

Units on scene: Engine 9, Truck 9, Rescue Squad 1 with support unit, Rescue Squad 2 with support unit, Rescue Squad 3 with Collapse Support Unit, Batt. 4, Batt. 3, Firefighting Deputy, Special Ops Battalion, Hazmat, Rapid 12, Medic 3, EMS 16, EMS 45.