FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Williamson County construction worker continues to recover after falling into 27 feet into a construction hole early Monday morning.
The rescue initiated a massive and coordinated rescue effort to get the man out of the deep hole.
The call went out at 8:19 a.m. Monday as a confined space rescue.
According to Williamsom County Rescue Squad Fire Chief Bob Galoppi, the worker was trying to set a ladder 27 feet into the hole, and somehow he fell forward into the hole from the very top.
First responders say the worker was moaning on the concrete floor when they arrived.
Lt. Nick Reali of the WCRS heard the call and knew it would be a complex rescue mission.
“I knew immediately it would be a pretty technical, demanding rescue,” he said.
As Chief Galoppi responded to the call, he knew the odds of finding the construction worker were slim.
“Almost 70% of the time in a confined space accident, it results in a fatality. That is a staggering number,” he said.
On the way, Galoppi called the Franklin Fire Department for help who responded by sending multiple trucks and 15 personnel.
“That’s always sitting in the back of my head as a fire chief,” Galoppi said. “Now I have to put my people in harm’s way to go retrieve someone else in harm’s way and how do we do that successfully?”
The fire department also sent their drone, giving a bird’s eye view of the rescue. It showed the scene and where all of the 30 first responders were stationed.
“It’s a High risk low frequency event, but it is what we train for,” Reali said.
According to Reali, three firefighters went down into the hole to work with the injured worker. One of those firefighters is a paramedic trained for confined space rescues.
The eight-minute video shows the crew securing the tripod and being lowered down into the hole.
“So they are down there, configuring and packaging the patient for retrieval,” Reali said.
The drone was able to zoom into the darkness, showing the rescuers working in the hole. According to Reali, the man was not placed on a backboard, but instead was put in a stabilization device that wrapped around his torso.
“So in this case, he came straight up the hole and at the top of the tripod we are able to traverse him sideways to an attendant standing at the side of the hole,” Reali said.
While crews attended to the man in the hole, other team members cleared a landing zone for Vanderbilt’s helicopter. It took a little more than an hour to extricate the worker from the pit.
He was then in the care of Williamson County EMS and then Vanderbilt LifeFlight crews.
“It takes twice as many people and takes twice as long to do it, because we have to make sure that the rescuee and rescuers are all protected and stay safe,” Galoppi said.
The man’s condition is unknown at this time.
Fire officials confirm that when they first arrived, the man was wearing a safety harness, but that harness was not attached to any safety line.
The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) is investigating the accident.
It could take six to eight weeks to get any details of what happened and to determine if there were any work place violations.