Wednesday, September 5, 2012
During the evening rush hour the highway response was dispatched for a vehicle accident with entrapment on the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76). KPVFC (responding east bound from Rt. 202) as well as Swedeland Fire Company (responding west bound from Gulph Mills) were dispatched with reports of a box truck down an embankment. Although dispatched as east bound around the Gulph Mills interchange, where the vehicle actually started down the embankment and where it ended up was a mystery. Squad 48, under the direction of Deputy Chief Orangers, arrived first due and as they proceeded up the east bound onramp they were flagged down by witnesses. The crew followed the tire tracks that led to a wooded area and a sudden drop off of at least 50’ to find the vehicle resting upright. Using rope to guide themselves down, the crew from Squad 48 descended the hill and made first access to the cab of the vehicle. Swedeland Fire Chief Chris Camarda arrived, established “I-76 Command”, and quickly ascertained from his crew that the best access was from the lower end of the hill adjacent to a construction zone parking lot. Engine 48 (K. Smith) and the paramedics from Lafayette Ambulance were the first to arrive on the parking lot side and cleared brush to make access to the vehicle. A plan was established between Captain Smith and Assistant Chief Haney from Swedeland to extricate the two victims in the vehicle as KPVFC units were arriving. KPVFC Assistant Chief Jim Gallagher and the crews from Rescue 47 and Squad 47 worked to develop a plan to bring the victims to grade level once extricated. The crew from Squad 48 removed the driver’s door with the hydraulic cutters and worked with paramedics to place each victim on a long board inside a rescue basket. Members from both fire companies worked together on packaging and removing the patients to grade level by using a portable ladder to slide the rescue basket. Both victims were placed in awaiting ambulances within an hour and transported to a trauma center. This emergency demonstrates perfectly how two fire companies come together to achieve a common goal. All crews did an excellent job at this unusual and uncommon incident.