• Robert Skertich

Swiftwater Rescue 10/31/2019

On the afternoon of October 31, 2019, we were dispatched to a car overturned in the creek along Rt 8 at the E. Elfinwild Rd. bridge. A neighboring department chief officer (241 Assistant Chief) arrived in moments and reported that the car was upside-down in the creek, with the doors closed. No one witnessed anyone exiting the vehicle.

Rescue 3 arrived, and Assistant Chief Justin Rupert assumed command of the incident. Swiftwater rescue personnel from Etna FD (149) were requested. Once the swiftwater team was on scene, they entered the water, and learned that the occupant was still inside and conscious. After quickly stabilizing the car, the team removed the occupant and packaged him for movement up the bank to the parking lot, where Shaler-Hampton EMS personnel began patient care.

Some important lessons from this incident:

- NEVER enter rushing water to attempt a rescue unless you are properly trained and equipped. This water, after several hours of rain, proved challenging for even a top-notch team of rescuers. Some bystanders wanted to enter the water, and the first responders stopped them from doing so.

- Request help early in such situations.

On November 11, 2019, personnel from responding fire and EMS agencies, even the towing company, met at our station to discuss the incident and determine the lessons learned so that we can apply them to future incidents. This candid conversation among peers was informative and appreciated.

Special thanks to all of the agencies involved:

- Elfinwild Fire Company - Rescue 3, Engine 1, and Squad

- Shaler Villa Fire Company

- Etna Fire Department

- Hampton Fire Department #1

- Richland Fire Department

- Shaler Hampton EMS

- Shaler PD

Crews Rescue Man Trapped Inside Vehicle Overturned In Creek Off Route 8 In Shaler

Person rescued from overturned car in creek in Shaler