Falmouth Fire Department Rescues Teen Trapped in Freezing Mud
By: Michael C. Bailey
A 14-year-old Wareham boy is lucky to be alive after getting trapped in a muddy pit Saturday morning on the Lawrence-Lynch Corp. property.
That’s according to Deputy Chief Michael F. Small of the Falmouth Fire Rescue Department, who described the scene of what he called “a very untechnical rescue” of the unidentified juvenile, who sank up to his chest in freezing mud while exploring on the property with a friend.
“He is very lucky to be alive,” Dep. Small said. “If he had been alone, he would not have survived.”
The FFRD got the 911 call at 10:54 AM from the victim’s friend, identified only as a Falmouth resident, and right away first responders had to deal with the first of several challenges in trying to pinpoint the youths’ location on the Lawrence-Lynch property.
Dep. Small said the Barnstable County Emergency Dispatch Center took the cellphone call and worked to triangulate the caller’s exact position, which was difficult “because they had a shaky connection” with the caller’s cellphone.
Once the victim was located, rescuers then had to figure out how to reach him. Dep. Small said the victim was chest-deep in mud atop a pile of material in the back of the Lawrence-Lynch facility. “It was almost like a crater on the top of a volcano had formed in the mud,” he said.
He is very lucky to be alive. If he had been alone, he would not have survived.
Deputy Chief Michael Small
The half-acre area was effectively ground level when approached from Stephens Lane, he said, but the only access point was off the Gifford Street entrance, which meant the area was about 75 to 100 feet high from the rescuers’ perspective.
That, Dep. Small said, prevented the department from accessing the area with its heavy rescue equipment, and only four people were able to actively participate in the rescue due to the access issues.
Captain Michael White “slid down into the crater” to secure a rope around the boy’s chest so rescuers could extract him, Dep. Small said, and that took about 15 minutes because the ground acted almost like quicksand, sucking the victim back in every time his rescuers managed to pull him out a little.
“The kid was in mortal danger” throughout the operation, Dep. Small said, not only because of the hypothermia danger from being encased in “freezing-cold mud,” but because the pressure on the boy’s torso impeded his ability to breathe. “If he’d been in a couple inches deeper, he could have suffocated.”
Once freed, the boy was taken from the immediate area by SUV to a nearby ambulance, which transported him to Falmouth Hospital. An official word on the boy’s status was unavailable from either the fire department or the hospital due to federal HIPAA laws.
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