KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Fire crews, EMTs and other first responders are being honored by the state for their work to rescue two men trapped in a trench in January 2022.

When a trench collapsed in Powell, one man was covered up to his chest in dirt and another man was completely covered by rubble. Around 100 responders from Rural Metro, Knoxville Fire, Knox County Rescue, AMR Knox and UT LifeStar worked together to free the trapped men. It took 6 hours to free the first and two more to free the second, but both were pulled to safety.

Shortly after the rescue, first responders told WATE that it was a remarkable rescue and amazing that both men survived.

This effort earned the first responders the statewide EMS Star of Life award from the Children’s Emergency Care Alliance of Tennessee. This award works to recognize exceptional front-line care by first responders. Representatives from each agency were honored at a celebration in Lebanon on May 4 and brought home a trophy to memorialize their hard work and bravery.

“I wish I could have taken all 100 people with me. It was quite an honor for the extraordinary call that it was. We’re very grateful, we don’t do it for the honors. But it was nice that somebody noticed what we did okay and we’re extremely grateful for the Children’s Network for doing that,” said Patrick Moore, chief of special operations for Rural Metro Knox County.

Rural Metro added that the community really stepped up to help during the trench collapse call. The agency thanks Lowe’s for giving them much-needed gear to help with their rescue efforts and several local restaurants brought food for crews on the scene.