Flurry of incidents scramble Basalt rescuers
November 20, 2009
BASALT – A relatively calm fall for the Basalt Fire Department evaporated in a hurry Wednesday when rescue workers and firefighters were called to three major incidents and a minor one within three hours.
Ambulance crews barely had time to deliver victims from the earlier incidents at hospitals on either end of the valley when they were called to the later incidents. The constant sound of sirens made the midvalley resemble a bit Great Britain cities during the Blitz in World War II, fueling curiosity among residents.
“After the second call we said a third one was coming,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Peetz. “They always come in threes.”
Firefighters and rescue workers were paged at 4:34 p.m. for a vehicle on its side about a mile east of Basalt on Fryingpan Road. The first responders found a man unconscious but breathing. He was trapped in a Subaru.
Rescuers had to cut the roof off to extricate the victim. He was taken to a local hospital. His condition and identity were unavailable from the fire department because of privacy laws.
While responders were on that call, an ambulance was dispatched to the El Jebel Mobile Home Park for a trauma call at 5:06 p.m. An unidentified victim suffered an ankle injury and required transport to a hospital.
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As both ambulances were returning to Basalt from either side of the valley, a call came in for a man in his 40s who was having trouble breathing after eating shrimp. He had a life-threatening allergic reaction, according to Peetz.
An off-duty member of the fire department with advanced life-support skills responded to the call in the Orchard Plaza parking lot, realizing that the ambulances were still on the road and out of the district, Peetz said. The responder administered drugs that stabilized the victim until other personnel arrived. Both ambulances ran with sirens and lights on on their trips back from the hospitals in Aspen and Glenwood Springs to get to the scene.
The final call came at 7:30 p.m. when a vehicle T-boned another at the west intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane. A man was trapped in a car on its side.
“The person stayed in the car until we got it stabilized, then he crawled out the back,” Peetz said. No occupants in either vehicle were injured.
In both accidents, rescuers used a special tool called a “Res-Q-Jack” to stabilize the vehicles so those inside could be removed safely. The department had just held a training session with the jacks the night before to freshen skills, Peetz said.
A total of 22 rescuers and firefighters responded to the four incidents Wednesday, with several personnel responding to more than one. The day reinforced the value of volunteers. The paid staff couldn’t have handled the volume of calls alone, Peetz said.