Trench Rescue Operations

OSHA and NIOSH report that there are more than 1,000 trench collapses each year across the United States. In addition, there are between 50-100 fatalities annually as the result of a trench collapse. So what exactly is a trench? Simply put, a trench is defined as a long ditch. Unlike an excavation, trenches are typically deeper than its width. Trenches are commonly dug to install utilities or to pour foundations for a building.

SBVFD members install wood shoring during a trench rescue training exercise.
SBVFD members install wood
shoring during a trench
rescue training exercise.

Trench collapses are extremely dangerous and are often deadly. Soil can weigh in excess of 100 pounds per cubic foot and can have a crushing and asphyxiation affect on anyone that is in the path of a collapsing trench. Additionally, many trenches contain hazardous atmospheres and utilities that can pose additional threats to workers and responding emergency personnel. While federal law requires that a trench be properly secured (or shored) if there is work to be performed below ground, contractors and workers often ignore these safety measures. The results can be catastrophic.

Members of the Sound Beach Technical Rescue Team have received advanced training in trench rescue operations. The team is able to respond with a full compliment of trench rescue equipment including wood panels, struts and patient extrication equipment.

Rescue Operations

In the event of a trench collapse, one of the team’s first priorities is to prevent further collapse and to control any hazards that may be present. In order to protect the rescuers that will be entering the trench to perform a rescue or recovery, the trench must be completely “shored.” This can often be a difficult and time consuming task that requires careful planning and execution. Once a victim has been located and uncovered, the team will work with medical officials to safety remove the victim from the trench.

Members of the Sound Beach Technical Rescue Team train throughout the year in trench rescue operations. Additionally, the team routinely hires outside training experts to certify members in trench rescue operations in accordance with NFPA standards (at the operations and technician level). Financial support for all of the team’s training is received through donations from the community.

To learn more about supporting the team by making a financial contribution, please click here.