Oregon firefighters use earthquake training to rescue woman trapped between buildings
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:26 p.m.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland firefighters cut a hole through concrete and used an air bag and a soapy lubricant to free an Oregon woman who fell and became stuck in a narrow opening between two buildings Wednesday morning.
The woman spent about four hours in a space 8 to 10 inches wide. Local and national cable news broadcast footage of the rescue effort and showed the woman emerging from the space at about 7:30 a.m.
The woman raised her face, clenched her fists and shouted, “Oh, my God.”
Firefighters said they hadn't gotten a clear explanation of how the woman got into the predicament. Lt. Rich Chatman of the Portland fire department said she had been seen smoking or walking on the roof of a two-story building before she fell about 10 to 12 feet.
The woman was wedged about four feet above the ground before rescuers installed braces to support her. Firefighters turned on a portable heater to keep her warm in near-freezing temperatures while they dropped an air bag into the opening to slightly spread the walls.
“She was in good spirits,” Chatman said. “We just tried to reassure her ... we weren't going home without her.”
After rescuers cut a window-size opening in the concrete wall, Chatman climbed in to help apply the soapy substance. The woman then wiggled toward the hole as the rescue team tugged on her.
“It was so tight, it wasn't until the last foot that she could actually see me,” Chatman said. “She had that look in her eye that she was coming out no matter what.”
She was taken to the Oregon Health & Science University hospital and appeared to be in good health, fire Lt. Damon Simmons said. Because she's a patient, the department won't release her name unless she gives her consent, he said.
The department's Urban Search and Rescue unit who extricated the woman train for situations such as building collapses and none of the tactics used Wednesday were improvised, Simmons said.
“They're ready for when the big earthquake hits,” he said.
The unit in recent years has dealt with people who have fallen into sinkholes. But Wednesday's incident was the first time firefighters had come across someone stuck exactly like the woman was, Simmons said.
“She was just so relieved,” Chatman said. “She'd been there for over three hours against two cold slabs of concrete.
“Right before she went out to the ambulance, we were able to get a little hug in there.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Court upholds EPA emissions restrictions
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- Health insurance subsidies under Obamacare to cost slightly less than previously thought
- Suspect in Jewish community sites shootings appears in court in wheelchair
- Bankrupt Detroit, retired cops, fire crews agree to deal that saves pensions
- Iranian envoy officially blocked by law
- Supreme Court voids overall contribution limits to political candidates
- Terror attorney guilty in tax case
- Phoenix firefighters can’t find keys to 850 lock boxes
- Dangers of Heartbleed bug grow every day
- Public employees union fights outside IRS collectors