July 25, 2021

Skowhegan, Waterville firefighters rescue man> Emergency teams save victim pinned by crane

SKOWHEGAN — Two fire departments and their High Angle Rescue Teams staged a dramatic recovery Friday morning at S.D. Warren’s Skowhegan mill in the wood yard.

A man whose identity was not released was working on top of a metal structure, near the tip of the arm of a crane. While he was working, the crane moved, pinning him between the crane and the structure, according to Capt. Roland LaCroix of the Waterville Fire Department.

“He received shoulder, chest and facial injuries,” said LaCroix, “but remained conscious and alert throughout the rescue.” The top of the crane was about 90 feet from the ground, said LaCroix. When the call for help was received, two High Angle Rescue Teams responded — one from Waterville and the other from Skowhegan — along with Skowhegan’s aerial truck.

A lengthy extrication began, involving a complicated rope harness, the aerial truck and a litter. The process lasted nearly four hours.

Firefighter Brian Tibbetts of Oakland is a full-time firefighter with the Waterville Fire Department and a member of the High Angle Rescue Team. Tibbetts said the rescue was “very interesting” and was completed without problems, despite freezing temperatures and stiff winds.

“It involved a lot of time and a lot of rigging,” said Tibbetts. “If you picture an enormous child’s swing set, that is what the situation looked like. We climbed to the top, using an outside staircase, and stabilized the patient. Then we used Skowhegan’s ladder truck and a series of ropes to lower the patient in a litter. One of our firefighters actually accompanied the litter down the ladder, working his way underneath the litter, guiding him down.”

Tibbetts said the rescue went well and was “a great cooperative effort” between the two teams. “We’ve been trained to go wherever the person is injured, be it a hill, a structure, a tower, even a tree. We adapt to the situation.” Tibbetts said the man was taken to Thayer Hospital with injuries which where not life-threatening.

Calls for information made to the S.D. Warren Mill were not returned.

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