On the morning of Saturday June 2nd, Contra Costa County Fire’s(Con Fire) Rescue 82 responded along with several other Con Fire resources to the report of a sedan that had rear-ended a tractor trailer on the Antioch Bridge, SR 160 headed south bound from Cordelia to Antioch.
While in route, Rescue 82 personnel heard the size up of the accident from Captain 81; he reported that there was significant mechanism and intrusion of the tractor trailer into the B-post of the sedan. We were all surprised to hear reports of a patient who was alive and talking to first arriving rescuers.
R82 noted that there was a trailer sitting on top of the hood of the sedan and that the drivers body was pinned not only by the crumpled vehicle but also by several thousand pounds of salvaged tractor equipment secured to the trailer.
It became obvious that the rescue operation would entail stabilizing BOTH vehicles while lifting the heavier trailer off the lighter sedan. They would need to accomplish this without injuring the patient and also stabilize the heavy load.
It was determined that the Paratech highway kit should be used to accomplish the lift while using the stabilizing struts to follow and capture the load. A two “triangular systems” was built; one for lifting and one for follow, capture, and stabilizing. Simultaneously, they also strapped the hood was of the smaller vehicle to the frame so as to optimize the amount of space provided by using the highway kit.
Teams were used to build both the lifting system and the complimentary stabilizing system and we attached the hand pumps to the lifting system.
Captain 82 conducted a safety check with the help of Captain 10 and Captain 83. Captain 82 then assumed charge of the lifting operation and instructed both firefighters on the hand pumps to lift on his command. In a controlled fashion, the trailer was lifted off the sedan and enabled another rescue crew to continue cutting the car away from the patient. Through the action of lifting, stabilizing, and cutting they were able to free the patient with relatively moderate injuries.
It was stated by the first responders that “The Paratech system was paramount to to our success in freeing the patient in a safe and controlled manner, and stabilizing what was otherwise, a dangerous and dynamic load. This system allowed us to operate with confidence and was extremely efficient in operation.”