Local first responders honored for single call response

Members of the South Hill Volunteer Fire Department, LaCrosse Volunteer Fire Department, and the Southside Rescue Squad were presented with gold pin awards for excellence when responding to an entrapment call early in September. SSRS members include: Gavin Gwaltney, Lonnie Spencer, and Kacie Roberts. LVFD members include: Brandon Edmonds and Al Wray. SHVFD members include: Michael Vaughn, John Kelly, Ricky Jones, Jacob Lester, Chase Carter, Gage Clary, Zach Currin, Alyssa Drohan, Curtis Evans, Josh Gosney, Devin Hall, Travis Kidd, Daniel Medlin, Frank Rausch, Brad Thomason, Matthew Washburn, and Grady Waters. Also in attendance were Mayor Dean Marion, Town Councilman Shep Moss, and Town Councilman Gavin Gwaltney. (Jami Snead/Editor)

The South Hill Volunteer Fire Department hosted a small ceremony on Monday night honoring those who responded to, what many called, the worst entrapment they had ever seen on Interstate 85 early in September. 

Chris Thomas with ACI Fire and Safety, a rescue tool distributor, said he was honored to present members of the LaCrosse Volunteer Fire Department, Southside Rescue Squad, and South Hill Volunteer Fire Department with a gold pin award for the commitment and dedication they showed when responding to the horrific call. 

The award is presented to those who used holmatro rescue tools to save a life. “The gold pin award recognizes your outstanding performance, dedication, and commitment to excellence and service to your community and those that you serve. This is just a small token of our appreciation to those first responders who put themselves in harms way each day. The award recognizes your bravery and personal sacrifice.”

On September 9, the SHVFD was dispatched to Interstate 85 for a motor vehicle accident that was later upgraded to an entrapment, adding LVFD and SSRS to the response team. 

Upon arrival, Engine 72 found a Dodge Ram 2500 that was completely trapped under the bed of an 18-wheel tractor trailer. Heavy duty tow trucks were brought in to help clear the wreckage and a med-flight helicopter was dispatched to assist with injuries. 

First responders worked tirelessly to remove the entrapped driver, who was semi alert and trying to communicate with workers. It took approximately one hour and seven minutes for crews to stabilize both vehicles and extract the victim. 

The steering column pinned the drivers lower right leg and the compromised cab was halfway under the tractor trailer with the car dolly sitting on top of the cab. Adding to the danger of the incident was leaking hydraulic fuel along with a 65 gallon diesel fuel tank that had ruptured on impact. 

“Extensive vehicle stabilization, cutting pillars, cutting floorpans, removing sections of the dashboard and steering column were needed to complete the patient removal. 

Once the patient was freed, Southside Rescue initiated medical care until the patient could be transported to the hospital by the med-flight helicopter to the VCU Trauma Center in Richmond. 

The patient suffered from a concussion, multiple broken bones and ribs, and a lacerated spleen. He was treated at the trauma center and later sent to the operating room for emergency surgery. 

Due to the extensive labor and the severity of the call, volunteers pushed their own physical limits to free the patient. Volunteers dropped to their knees from exhaustion with some needing oxygen themselves. 

The patient is still currently in the hospital needing extensive physical therapy but is no longer facing life-threatening injuries thanks to the efforts of our local first responders. 

“My congratulations to everyone involved in that unusual extraction,” said Thomas.