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UPDATE: Man Removed From Trench Collapse, Reportedly Stable

Westfield Fire Department responded along with scores of help.

Upate 4:15 p.m.

The man trapped in a collapsed 4-by-8-foot trench Saturday afternoon has been taken to University Hospital in Newark and is reportedly stable, according to Elizabeth Fire Chief Thomas McNamara.

McNamara said the man's name would not be released at this time. The man is a private contractor and was working on what appears to be plumbing issues on Knollwood Terrace, McNamara said.

The Elizabeth Fire Department was one of several agencies that responded to the scene. Elizabeth sent four rescue teams as its department is the technical rescue crew for Union County.

"It appears he was doing some kind of plumbing," McNamara said. "The trench he was digging collapsed around him."

A trench collapse is not a common call for firefighters, McNamara said, but it is a scene that is manpower and equipment intensive. McNamara said about 100 people responded to the scene, including firefighters, police officers and EMS crews.

A jackhammer was brought by the Westfield Public Works department in case it was needed but McNamara said much of the removal was completed with equipment from the Elizabeth Fire Department.

Particularly, a "dirt vac" and an "air knife" were tools the firefighters used to dig faster and suck up all the dirt to then remove the trapped man more easily and see where they were working.

The man was trapped up to his waist, McNamara said.

"Everyone worked really well, McNamara said. "We took him out on a backboard."

The man was alert and conscious when he was removed, McNamara said.

In addition to Elizabeth and Westfield Fire Departments, departments from Scotch Plains, Cranford, Fanwood, Newark, Jersey City and Bayonne responded. The state and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were notified.

Firefighters were waiting for OSHA to arrive around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. OSHA will investigate the incident.

McNamara said contractors must abide by certain regulations when it comes to digging a trench. He declined to comment on whether all those regulations were followed in this instance.

Update 3:15 p.m.

Radio reports indicate the man trapped in the trench has been removed and is being transported to University Hospital in Newark.

Original Story

The Westfield Fire Department is responding to an entrapment situation on Knollwood Drive.

Preliminary reports from the scene indicate a man was digging a trench when it collapsed around him. He is trapped from the waist down in a trench about 4 feet by 8 feet wide.

A call for a Medivac was denied due to the weather.

Fire departments from surrounding municipalities are assisting Westfield Fire, including departments from Elizabeth, Scotch Plains and Cranford. The Westfield Public Works Department is also responding with jackhammers, according to those at the scene. State rescue teams are also expected to respond.

Westfield Patch will continue to cover this incident as more information becomes available.

jason garcia June 12, 2011 at 11:10 AM
There are tools and specialized equipment on a truck company's apparatus which is not carried on an engine, well as the man power! Would have been 3 more knowledgeable rescue personal immediately on location to assist with the extraction of the patient! Sad to hear the ladder was left behind again....
Concerned citizen June 12, 2011 at 12:46 PM
fyi the Clark truck was on scene and rigged for a lift if it was deemed necessary. Thanks Clark!
LLROWESTFIELD June 12, 2011 at 12:59 PM
I still see no answer as to why our truck was not in place of the Clark truck. Like I said the cuts in manpower. We need to speak up and get the fire Dept. back to full staffing. I also see that our truck did not go to the fire on Hazel until well after the fact. Why? manpower cuts. Come on people lets speak out and bring the staffing to a safe level. My taxes went up even with all the cuts town wide. If I am going to get an increase in taxes then I want a fully staffed town.
South Westfielder June 12, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Our taxes may have gone up, but I learned recently that a very small percentage of our taaex go to the town. Most of it goes to pay for the school system and the county. Only about 17% of what we pay in property taxrd actually goes to Westfield. As for what goes to teh county (which means Plainfield, Elizabeth, Hillside, etc.), you can blame our Union County politicians for that.
johnny June 30, 2011 at 11:26 PM
feel bad but thats what you get from cheap labor there is alot to digging and working in a trench need trained union people not scab labor, unfortunatly thats what you get these days scab labor ask christie he loves that stuff. fills his pockets and belly!!

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