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Firefighters forced to rescue Erie man through hole in house

| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Erie firefighters and an EmergyCare paramedic had to carry a man through a large hole in his house Friday morning when they were unable to rescue him any other way because of large piles of trash found throughout his east Erie residence.
Erie Times-News | GoErie via YouTube
Erie firefighters and an EmergyCare paramedic had to carry a man through a large hole in his house Friday morning when they were unable to rescue him any other way because of large piles of trash found throughout his east Erie residence.

Erie firefighters and an EmergyCare paramedic had to carry a man through a large hole in his house Friday morning when they were unable to rescue him any other way because of large piles of trash found throughout his east Erie residence.

EmergyCare personnel were called to the house in the 3600 block of Burton Avenue around 10:30 a.m. The victim had called 9-1-1, saying he had trouble breathing.

"Our crew showed up and discovered there was no way we could get a gurney in the house," said Harry Latta, EmergyCare operations manager. "Trash, feces and household goods were piled everywhere."

Erie firefighters were called to the scene. They removed a second-story window, expanded the opening to fit a gurney and cut down a tree in front of the house so a tower truck's bucket could reach the opening.

A paramedic and a firefighter, each wearing disposable protective suits over their uniforms, stayed with the victim in the house while the opening was created. The victim, whose identity was not released, was placed on a gurney and carried through the opening onto the bucket's platform.

"This is something we practice, similar to how we rescue a trapped firefighter," said Erie fire Capt. Tom Palotas, one of the firefighters who helped carry the man.

The bucket was then lowered to the ground, where the victim was transported to a waiting ambulance. He was taken to UPMC Hamot.

City of Erie building inspectors were on the scene. They were expected to work with Erie fire officials to determine if the house is inhabitable.

"Right now it is not habitable," Erie fire Chief Guy Santone said. "We'll work with building inspectors and make a formal decision."

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