Fatal Middletown OH Technical Rescue- One Firefighter Pulled From Hole Not Breathing

I'm surprised this didn't make the news section of this forum. Anyway, this should make for a good discussion, because it sounds like there was some serious mistakes made, and safety issues that were not addressed. Hopefully this doesn't end with any LODD notifications. I pray the two make a speedy recovery.

The part in this article that really gets me is where it's mentioned "There normally would be no gasses in hole according to authorities, as it was just a sanitary sewer line". Wonder who the authorities were that told the reporter this? Guess they never heard of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) gas.

Fatal Middletown OH Technical Rescue- One Firefighter Pulled From Hole Not Breathing

A Middletown, Ohio Captain was pulled out of a manhole early this morning unconscious and not breathing after attempting to rescue a city worker.  According to initial reports, Captain Todd Wissemeyer, a 20-year veteran of the department was flown to Miami Valley Hospital.

At about 8:30am ET this morning, officials say that three city workers were preparing a sewer site for work, but had no plans to descend down the shaft.  When one of the workers opened the manhole cover and looked inside, he was apparently overcome and fell down into the hole.

“It appears he was standing over the hole,” said Deputy Police Chief Mark Hoffman in a press conference at the site. “Whatever came out, he went in.”

Captain Wissemeyer and his partner, Fire Marshal Bob Hess, both attempted a rescue but were also overcome by the fumes.  Hess was transported by ground ambulance to a local hospital and his condition is also unknown at this time.  The 32-year old city worker succumbed to his injuries.

There normally would be no gasses in hole according to authorities, as it was just a sanitary sewer line. The investigation is continuing and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Please keep these men, their families and their department in your thoughts and prayers as you continue your day.

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Breathing apparatus or supplied air systems are mandatory for confined space rescue, even if you are just near the entry point.

Atmospheric monitoring is mandatory, too.

If you don't have the proper equpment and training for confined space rescue, don't go in or near the confined space. The most important life to save is your own.
There normally would be no gasses in hole according to authorities, as it was just a sanitary sewer line. -
Exactly. I can't think of a place more likely to have unbreathable gases than a sanitary sewer.

Apparently those "authorities" have never heard about the unbreathable vapor products given off by decaying organic matter.
It sounds to me like Captin Wissemeyer and Fire Marshal Bob Hess may not have doned SCBA's. This should have been STANDARD PROCEDURE knowing the victim had been overcome by some type of fumes or gas from opening the manhole.

It would only have taken these firefighters (if they were properly trained) about 60 seconds to get into the SCBA's. An unconsicious firefighter is not helping any victims.

Think before you DO. It only takes a minute to be safe.
the firefighters were not wearing a breathing apparatus because they thought they were responding to a fall and knew nothing about air-quality problems.
It's been my expierence as a firefighter (civilian/US Navy) and Gas Free Engineer that dealing with sewage anything can result in exposure to H2s. It Smells like rotten eggs and after a few minutes of exposure to it you cannot smell it anymore, therefore thinking you are out of the woods when infact you are in a world of trouble! At the very least (you would think a Capt and "Fire Marshal") you would have a sniffer or 4 gas analyser to test before desending. But as firefighters we all know that we sometimes get tunnel visioned and that is a major killer of us!
If the fall occurs in a confined space, it's still a confined space rescue.

OSHA requires that you monitor the air, ventilate, perform lock-out/tag-out procedures, wear SCBA or Supplied Air Breathing Apparatus (SABA), wear full-body harnesses, and have a mechanical advantage system (ropes and pulley system or a man-rated winch) available before entering a confined space.

The assumed reason for the probelm in the space doesn't matter at all in terms of protecting the rescuers.
oh I know i just putting it on here for you to see no way I would go in with out my scba
Does anyone remember a LODD involving this same kind of incident back in the 80s? I remember hearing about it years ago but I can't remember anything else about it.
There is a history of numerous LODDs of this type, some of them with multiple LODDs.

One of my friends, who was also a member of my paramedic class, died in a similar incident in 1989.

Some of the similar incidents can be reviewed here, here, and here.

The last link has several confined space fatality reports, most involving at least one would-be rescuer.

A good basic Confined Space Rescue article is located here.
I just went through training firefighter students on confined space rescue. After looking at the Middletown's web site, I see they were trained in CSR. Though none of us were there, it seems to confirm how we (the fire service) can be careless in our everyday approach to rescue calls.

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