Three Boston firefighters involved in today’s dramatic rescue of a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority worker said they drew on their specialized training and also had the help of the injured man who was determined to escape his concrete trap.
“He was in a lot of pain and clearly he was anxious,’’ said Gary Dardia, who was one of two firefighters lowered some 30 feet into a concrete shaft underneath the elevated tracks at the Red Line’s Charles Street/MGH station this morning.
"He wanted out of that hole,’’ Dardia added. “He was cooperative. He helped us the best he could under the condition he was in.’’
Dardia, firefighter Ballin Wright and Fire Captain Richard Connelly were lead players in the rescue of Edward Rowe, an MBTA electrician who was cutting power to the third rail so repair workers could safely get on the Longfellow Bridge around 4:20 a.m.
While walking between the inbound and outbound tracks, the 46-year-old Rowe fell through a piece of plywood that had been used to cover up the hole, officials said.
At the peak of the rescue effort, some 40 firefighters, drawn from companies around the city, combined to lower Wright and then Dardia into the hole, and then helped hoist all three men to safety.
“He was so glad to get out of the hole,’’ said Wright. “And we were so glad to get him out of that hole.’’
Connelly helped direct the complex rescue and told the Globe that the teamwork was “superb.’’ He said when firefighters first arrived on the scene the hope was that the emergency would quickly and safely end.
But that hope soon ended, especially after they spoke with Rowe.
“We were in contact by voice with him. He told us his name was Eddie, and we asked him where he hurt,’’ Connelly said. “We asked him where he hurt, and he said he couldn’t feel his feet. His legs hurt and his left arm. At that point, we decided we were going into the hole.’’
After several hours, Rowe was hoisted out of the hole and rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of his injuries, which included two broken legs, officials said.
Red Line train service between Cambridge and Boston was suspended for several hours but resumed around 8 a.m. Buses were used to shuttle passengers between Kendall Station in Cambridge and Broadway Station in South Boston.
Steve MacDonald, fire department spokesman, said the shaft that Rowe fell into is only 2 feet by 2 feet at its opening. At the bottom where Rowe became trapped, the shaft widens out to about 4 feet by 4 feet.
Because of the narrow space, firefighters could not just rush in and pull Rowe out.
“The only way to get him out was to hoist him straight up,’’ said MacDonald. “It’s very tough, confined conditions.’’
The technical rescue team, drawn from Rescue 1 and other firefighting companies around the city, rigged a pulley system.
Over the next several hours, firefighters installed a safety harness on Rowe and at one point began pulling him up to the surface, but had to halt because the movement caused him too much pain, MacDonald said.
Firefighters adjusted the safety harness on Rowe and on their next attempt were able to pull him up the shaft shortly before 8 a.m.
(Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
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