Editors Note: Confined space rescue is generally placed in the technical rescue discipline, however anybody that instructs or has been on confined space incidents knows that hazardous materials are involved, perhaps, more times than not. This is Part 1 of a multipart series of training points learned from an actual incident. Each training point aims to improve your response to low frequency/high risk incidents.
Confined space rescue is generally placed in the technical rescue discipline, however anybody that instructs or has been on confined space incidents knows that hazardous materials are involved, perhaps, more times than not. This was true for the above incident we had in Scottsdale AZ on August 25, 2014. A worker entered a 3×3 entrance to an approximately 6×6 sump area to retrieve a part number off of a pump when he became overcome by high levels of hydrogen sulfide. Another worker (who happened to be his father) noticed him to be in trouble and entered the space and assisted his son out of the well but was then overcome himself and in so many of these situations, a third worker saw the father in trouble and entered to try and help and was overcome and fell on top of the father. There was enough sewage water in the sump area to cover almost both bodies. First crew onscene could not get too much information from the son because we was very altered and was immediately rushed to the hospital, but we were fairly certain there were two victims down and the Captain declared this an active rescue.
In the following parts I will give an on-scene review of the challenges faced in this rescue. My intent is to help others learn from this tragic incident and some of the unique problems the team faced including challenges of decon, metering, survivability assessment, PPE, media relations, and technical rescue equipment used on the incident.