PHOTOS: Construction worker in cardiac arrest rescued from deep trench in Thetford

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Eric Francis

Suffered an apparent heart attack while at work Thursday afternoon

THETFORD - Rescue crews from both sides of the Connecticut River converged on a road reconstruction site just north of the Union Village Dam on Route 132 Thursday afternoon to extricate a worker who went into cardiac arrest at the base of a deep trench.

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    Officials said the worker, who is in his mid-50s, still had a pulse when he was brought up to the road level and loaded onto an Upper Valley Ambulance which took him to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

    "It's a big dig," noted Thetford Police Chief Michael Evans who said the approximately 40-minute-long extrication effort was "complicated by the terrain and how deep we were working down in there."

The large trench completely bisects Route 132 between Union Village and South Strafford

    The project to replace a large culvert that runs underneath Route 132 just above the Lower Cream Street intersection is the last of the major reconstruction efforts stemming from the damage done around the town during the July 1 flooding.

    Chief Evans said approximately 20 workers from Northwoods Excavating, which is based in Thetford, were preparing to lower another large section of 8-foot diameter culvert into the trench when the man suddenly "experienced a medical event" and went into cardiac arrest.

    Thetford's volunteer fire and FAST Squad members responded to the construction site, which is right near the Norwich/Thetford town line and quickly requested mutual aid assistance from the full-time fire departments in the area which maintain technical rescue teams.

    "We utilized our own equipment and called Hanover, Hartford and Lebanon for a first-alarm rope rescue," Thetford Fire Chief Chad Whitcomb explained.  "We needed to use ropes and a Stokes (metal rescue basket) to get the subject out of the hole that's approximately 25 feet in the ground."

    Firefighters rigged a pulley up to the bucket on a excavator that was parked right above the downstream end of the metal culvert where the patient was located and used the large machine as the "high point" to effect the rope rescue.  

    "As you can see from the slope of the ditch, there's no good way in and it's a straight drop off at the bottom," Whitcomb said, adding, "Everybody worked very well together.  It went as good as it could for the situation."

Thetford's Fire Chief Chad Whitcomb and Police Chief Michael Evans at the scene

      Evans, the police chief, said that - fortuitously - both he and Chief Whitcomb had just stopped by the site Thursday morning to take a look around.

    "I had been here earlier today chatting with these guys so I knew the layout," Evans said, explaining that afterwards he'd successfully urged Whitcomb to stop by as well

    "I told him 'You ought to see it because it's huge'," Evans recalled, noting "I had sort of a bad premonition."

    Chief Evans said that once he arrived for the emergency call shortly after 3:30 p.m. both the cadre of construction workers already on the scene and the arriving first responders all kicked in and worked together.

    "We did CPR on him for quite some time down there and gave him a shock from an AED device," the chief explained.  "They were working with some water running through (the culvert) but it became problematic for us so (construction crews) got a pump and started pumping water around the scene" through a series of hoses, Evans said.  "We were down there working with a significant amount of water flowing around us while we were on a little island with these guys working to divert as much of it as they could, so it was great teamwork."

    Additional photos of the actual rescue were made available this evening by Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley and they have been added below along with a shot taken earlier in the day by Thetford Fire Chief Michael Evans showing the scale of the culvert replacement that is underway.

Photo courtesy Thetford Police Chief Michael Evans

These next four photos are courtesy of Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley

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