KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two men were rescued Monday evening after being trapped in a collapsed trench on Inskip Drive in North Knoxville.
Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks with the Knoxville Fire Department said they worked with multiple agencies on the rescue, and that each team’s involvement was crucial to the success of the operation.
“We had about 30 men and women from the Knoxville Fire Department here, plus we had our City construction crew here with their vacuum truck, and we also had our partner from KUB here with their vacuum truck,” Wilbanks said. “Those tools are invaluable to a situation like this because those vacuum trucks will literally suck dirt and rock out of a trench.”
Wilbanks said the potential threat to the men stemmed from a condition called compartment syndrome.
“The threat is basically this, in laymen’s terms, the mud and the rock are squeezing his lower part of his body, his legs, and the longer they’re squeezed the more serious the condition is for a patient,” he explained. “What can happen is when we release that squeeze all the bad stuff that has built up in the lower part of his body can travel throughout the rest of his body, and it could be detrimental.”
The first man was pulled out of the trench shortly after 6:00 p.m.
“One gentleman, we were able to get out a little earlier than the other. He was sent to UT Hospital and has since been discharged, and is headed home this evening thankfully,” Wilbanks said.
As for the second trapped worker, the rescue team ran into a snag when they discovered his foot was stuck underneath a pipe. After working around this obstacle, he was pulled out of the trench around 7:30 p.m.
“It just took us a little bit longer to get him out, we were able to get him successfully excavated from the trench, he now has been transported to the University of Tennessee Hospital. He seemed to be pretty stable while here on the scene, he was able to talk to his family,” Wilbanks said.
The scene was cleared shortly after 8:00 p.m.