Rescuers could hear trapped victims scrambling for air pockets
By Fire Chief Michael Thomas
Correctional Training Facility/Salinas Valley State Prison Fire
Two people trapped in a submerged vehicle were saved thanks to the quick-thinking of a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Fire Captain and his crew.
On May 12 at approximately 10:30 p.m., Correctional Training Facility/Salinas Valley State Prison (CTF/SVSP) Fire was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident on U.S. 101.
The call was reported as a vehicle rollover into a drainage ditch with entrapment.
Fire crews from the City of Gonzales, along with CTF/SVSP Fire, arrived about eight minutes later.
When they rolled onto the scene, fire crews found a pickup truck, on its top, submerged in approximately four feet of water. Occupants could be heard inside the vehicle scrambling for air pockets.
Fire Capt. Kirby Walton, of CTF Fire, ordered tools and equipment needed to attempt extrication of the occupants trapped inside.
While Walton worked within the water-filled ditch, other responders as well as an inmate firefighter from CTF/SVSP Fire, worked on stabilizing and securing access points to the vehicle.
With the use of the Jaws of Life, Walton was able to gain access and pry open the passenger door, which allowed for him to communicate with the two trapped occupants. A few moments later, both occupants were pulled from the submerged vehicle and guided up the embankment to safety. No major injuries were reported.
These acts of courage and heroic actions are often over looked or unheard of within CDCR Fire Departments.
CDCR Fire Captains respond daily to not only Institutional related emergency request, but are often dispatched out into their surrounding communities, to provide emergency response to Fire/Hazmat/ Rescue calls and in some areas medical aid request.
I personally would like to commend Fire Capt. Walton and his crew as well as all the men and women of CDCR Fire Departments, from the northern tip of California to the southern border. Thank all of you.