LFD shares lessons learned in trench collapse - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

LFD shares lessons learned in trench collapse

Lawton_For the first time, the owner of the company in charge of the construction project where a trench collapsed and trapped a worker back in November, is speaking out. As we've reported, investigators say a vital piece of equipment was missing from that trench that collapsed on Alejandro Cabrera. Lawton's Assistant Fire Chief says when he arrived at the scene he saw a metal box intended to brace the trench, sitting nearby, unused. Wednesday Chet Hooper, of Hooper Construction out of Wichita Falls, told 7NEWS workers were about to put that box into place.

      In the meantime, first responders who helped rescue Cabrera got together this week to talk about the incident. The Lawton Fire Department calls the rescue the most complicated and most difficult rescue they have ever done. Firefighters never thought they would have to make a rescue that far underground. "They had initially set us up to be ‘operations level' which allows us to go up to 8 feet deep in the trench and straight wall trench. This wall was up to 13 feet deep," said LFD Assistant Training Officer Jared Williams.

   Their training has been in much shallower trenches. This time, they needed more equipment than the typical shovel and pail. When crews needed a hoe to pull out dirt, some men from Lawton Public Works created one from a few pieces of scrap metal.  But that wasn't the only tool they were lacking. The new technical rescue trailer was used for a command post but the trailer had not been filled with the necessary equipment yet. "Equipment's not cheap but for us to be able to go out and do this safely and protect the citizens like we need to, we're going to have to go ahead and make some purchases with looking for grants and everything to go ahead and make that happen," Williams said.

   Along with the few things the fire department found they need to improve for next time -- they had an overwhelming amount of positives from that day. "The way everyone came together and worked together you would have thought we'd been training together for years and I was very pleased and proud of how it went," said LFD Fire Chief Bart Hadley. Williams added, "Our responders stepped up they did a great job. No one else got hurt and we saved a gentleman's life that day."

   The owner of Hooper Construction was very complimentary of all the emergency responders. As of Wednesday, Cabrera was still in critical condition at O-U Medical Center, where he had to get his right leg amputated.

But, Hooper credits those 50 first responders for saving Cabrera's life.

  The fire department also tells 7NEWS that after the trench collapse, Oklahoma Homeland Security and the Lawton Fire Department already started planning deeper trench rescue training for firefighters.

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