Emergency Crews Rescue Worker After 30 Foot Fall Into a Concrete-Floored Utility Vault

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Shortly after 1 PM, Monday, August 30, 2004, workers from a utility contractor were preparing to install machinery in an underground utility vault. As members of the crew worked to move a vacuum pump into position, one member made a terrible mistake and fell into the open utility vault.

About 1:30 PM, Eden Prairie, Minnesota Police and Fire Dispatch received a call from a cell phone reporting the accident. First reports indicated a worker had sustained a 30 foot fall into a manhole. Police and fire units were immediately dispatched, along with Hennepin County paramedics.

Fire Chief George Esbensen, while enroute, requested the Edina Fire Department on auto-aid, for their Special Operations Team. The team made up of on- and off-duty members of the combination department, is one of four state sponsored teams outfitted and trained to handle a variety of special rescue situations.

Edina was dispatched and responded with Fire Chief Marty Scheerer, Assistant Chief Darrell Todd and six on-duty firefighter/paramedics.

Eden Prairie Chief 1 assumed command of the incident, as Rescue 11, Ladder 1 and Squad 33 with Chief 2 arrived and accessed the situation.

The first S.O.T. members arrived less than 10 minutes into the event and began to set up for a below grade extrication.

The worker had fallen into the open utility vault approximately 30 feet deep, onto a concrete platform. Paramedic firefighters from Edina ascended into the hole and accessed the patient. Determining he was an approximately 35-year-old male, alert, and in pain, he was treated for a possible pelvic injuries and injuries to his jaw.

Life Link helicopter was requested to transport the injured worker to HCMC, a level 1 trauma center in downtown Minneapolis. Squad 33 members with E.P. Chief 2 moved less than a quarter mile down the road to set up for a landing zone in an adjacent field.

Three additional S.O.T members arrived after an all-call page for Edina firefighters. They helped with the rigging and extrication of the patient along with Eden Prairie members.

HCMC paramedics transported the patient to the awaiting helicopter. The entire incident was completed in less than 1 1/2 hours.