Firefighters rescue 2 workers trapped at Westport church construction site


According to KCTV:
Firefighters rescued two construction workers Tuesday after they were overcome by fumes in the basement of a Westport church under construction.

Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief James Garrett said crews were called to Westport Presbyterian Church, 201 Westport Rd., about 9:45 a.m. on a “confined space” rescue.

One man passed out in a small space he was waterproofing and the chemicals overwhelmed him. The space was no wider than about three feet, but it goes down 16 feet deep.

“It’s pretty narrow down in that hole,” Garrett said.

Another worker tried to help him, and he became dizzy as well.

“The fire trucks started arriving, there must’ve been every fire truck and emergency vehicle in a five to 10 mile area,” Onlooker Carla Hanson said.

Hanson was painting next door at the time. She said she knows the dangers of oxygen levels in small spaces when fumes can’t escape.

“It doesn’t take much to overwhelm you,” she said.

Fire crews came and the two men were taken out on stretchers, given oxygen and taken to the hospital.

“Working on a waterproofing substance that has some acetone and other products in there … when taking in a lot of it, it will overcome you. Their main complaint was respiratory distress,” Garrett said.

“We saw a man who tried to go down and get the guy out, but this is a big guy who was passed out so then the firemen came and they had their masks on and went down and they were going to lift him up with one of those flat board things, but they got oxygen to him and he was able to crawl out on his own,” Hanson said.

Firefighters are checking on the condition of the men who were taken to the hospital while work continues on the job site.

The site was being renovated after a fire severely damaged the historic church in December 2011, causing about $11 million in damages. The 100-year-old building was home to the Westport Church that was founded in 1835. Click here to read more.

The crew on site to work to reconstruct the 100-year-old church is A.L. Huber.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident and said A.L. Huber has not had any serious infractions in the last three years under the contractor name. OSHA said the Investigation could take up to six months.

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