By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews)
Sources: Barstow Fire Protection District and City of Barstow (Information)
Pictures: Barstow Fire Protection District and City of Barstow (Courtesy)
Barstow, California: A local man fell down into a deep hole at a residence during the afternoon on Thursday, January 12th, 2023.
According to the Barstow Fire Protection District and City of Barstow, at approximately 5:38 p.m. PT, Barstow Fire Department received a call for a fall victim, reported to be in a hole 6 feet below ground.
ME361 arrived to confirm that an adult male approximately 73 years of age was trapped in an abandoned dry well nearly 22 feet below ground. Adding to the intensity of the situation, there was an approximately 2,500lbs concrete cover that fell into the opening of the hole approximately 10 feet below the surface. The positioning of the cover entombed the victim who was an additional 12 feet below it. ME361 was able to communicate with the victim but unable to visualize him do to the unstable ground around the hole.
ME361 immediately requested additional resources which included one additional engine, Battalion Chief and the Fire Chief with a total of 8 personnel. San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Regional Task Force 6 from Fontana and Oak Hills also responded with 10 personnel. MCLB Fire provided a truck company with 4 personnel.
In addition, American Towing was instrumental in the rescue by providing a heavy wrecker for hoisting. Crews immediately began air monitoring of the confined space and were able to lower water and a flashlight to the victim while a plan was formulated to extricate him. A Barstow firefighter was then lowered into the hole to stabilize and secure the lid from potentially falling on the victim.
It took crews nearly 6 hours to remove the concrete lid from the hole which then enabled the victim, after being trapped for nearly 12 hours, to climb a ladder over 22 feet to safety. Once extracted, the victim was placed under the care of Barstow Fire Paramedics and transported by Desert Ambulance to Barstow Hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
“This outcome came from the collaborative efforts of all agencies involved” said Fire Chief Nick DiNapoli. “It was a complicated extraction, and we are all very pleased it ended the way it did.”
It was later learned that the victim went to check on a family home when he fell in the hole at approximately 11:00am. The family became concerned when he did not return home which prompted the 911 call.
The victim was released from the hospital and is home resting comfortably with family.
DiNapoli praised the rescue efforts of all involved.
“I’m just proud of the initial actions of ME361 getting the correct resources that were needed to help save this man’s life,” DiNapoli said. He added, “People often forget in these situations how important it is to communicate with the family of the victim. It was important to us to make sure they were informed every step of the way.”
During this extended incident Barstow Fire utilized a Paramedic Engine from Victorville for district coverage which responded to additional calls for service in the City of Barstow.
Great work to Barstow Fire Protection District along with San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Regional Task Force 6, Desert Ambulance and American Towing and Recovery for their service during the rescue.