On February 06, at approximately 1929 hours, Arrington Fire and Rescue was dispatched to a motor vehicle crash with entrapment involving three (3) vehicles on Arno Road at Interstate 840. Initial dispatch information advised that three (3) persons were trapped in a Ford truck and one person was pinned in a vehicle against a rock wall. Arrington Fire and Rescue’s Engine 19, Rescue 19, and Utility 19 responded to the crash. Rescue 19 was the first arriving unit with Chief Eugene Craft, Captain Chris Bowen, and Lieutenant Brad Kessler staffing the Rescue. Rescue 19 was able conduct a windshield size up and observed three (3) vehicles, two (2) with heavy damage, still in the roadway. Chief Craft established command while Captain Bowen and Lieutenant Kessler began checking vehicles to get an accurate patient count.
When Lieutenant Kessler came upon a minivan, he observed that the driver had been partially ejected from the vehicle and was now pinned between her vehicle and the rock wall. The patient’s lower body was wrapped under the steering wheel with her upper body being twisted toward the rear of the van and the van pinning her upper body against a rock wall and her vehicle. The patient was in and out of consciousness and would go completely unresponsive. Immediately, Lt. Kessler knew this would be an extensive extrication with a critical patient and advised the EMS Supervisor that Vanderbilt Lifeflight would be needed. Engine 19 and Utility 19 established a landing zone and assisted with patient care of the three (3) other patients in the Ford truck.
The gap between the van and the rock wall was so tight that it was not possible to fit a rescuer in order to make contact with the patient. A paramedic was instead inserted into the passenger seat of the van in full PPE to conduct patient care. There were only inches separating the van from touching the rock wall.
The van was cribbed utilizing wood cribbing and Paratech Rescue Air Bags were then inserted on the wood cribbing between the rock wall and the van. The van could not have been dragged by a vehicle as it would have caused the patient to fall out of the vehicle potentially causing serious injury. The van was cribbed and had two (2) Paratech airbags placed at the rear axle and two (2) Paratech airbags placed at the front axle. The vehicle was then slowly moved off of the rock wall by slowly inflating front and rear airbags, while cribbing continued, which in turn freed the patient. The patient was able to be slowly lowered to the ground due to the gap between the van and the rock wall that the airbags created.
The patient was in critical condition and Vanderbilt Lifeflight flew the patient to Vanderbilt Medical Center, the closest Level 1 Trauma Center. Thankfully, due in large part to the Paratech Airbags, the patient was freed as quickly as possible and survived being partially ejected and pinned between her van and the rock wall. The Paratech Airbags and our highly trained personnel not only saved a life that day but also prevented any further serious bodily injury, while dealing with a very unique ejection/pin-in entrapment rescue call.