OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Oak Ridge firefighters are using new equipment to save lives. In September alone, the department’s 3-to-1 rope haul system saved two lives.
This past Labor Day, Don Welch thought he was just going up to his attic for a few minutes to route a computer cable, but he made a wrong turn and got in a tricky situation.
“The overhead was only about four foot tall,” said Welch. “Somehow I got back into a spot where I couldn’t get out of.”
He started calling for help, but his wife was gone for the day, and his attic was quickly heating up.
“I had just kind of laid on my back on the rafters,” he said. “I laid there, I don’t know..for hours.”
Eventually Welch’s wife came home and wasn’t able to find her husband. She was recovering from hip surgery, but made it up to the second floor where she saw the ladder to the attic was down. She called up to her husband who told her to call 911. Welch said that was the last thing he remembers.
“My body just shut down,” he said.
When firefighters got to Welch, he had been stuck for six hours, his attic was 120 degrees, his body temperature was 105 degrees, and he was unconscious. The firefighters were able to use the new rope rescue equipment to get Welch out of the attic in a matter of minutes.
Every Oak Ridge Fire Department engine has been outfitted with the new equipment and Captain Eric Mocsari said it’s vital to help them save lives.
“It’s extremely important,” said Mocsari. “The benefit of a pre-rigged system is it’s very quick, we can get to a patient quickly, we don’t have to do a lot of thinking when we set these systems up, and we can extricate a patient from an emergency very quickly.”
Welch said he didn’t know he was saved by this new rope rescue system because he doesn’t remember any part of his rescue. All he knows is he’s grateful for the ones who did it. He credits the firefighters and the new equipment with saving his life.
“They did,” he said. “I definitely want to thank them for saving my life as well as my wife.”