Occupant rescue

TOP firefighters Rich Seils and Jim Meyer work into the night Tuesday during a rescue on Schacht Road following a late evening accident that resulted from a vehicle collision with a utility pole.

EagleHerald staff writer

TOWN OF PESHTIGO—Just three minutes after the Marinette County Dispatcher team sent out the call Tuesday night around 9:45 p.m., the volunteer crew from the Town of Peshtigo (TOP) Fire Department arrived first on the scene of an overturned vehicle that resulted after it struck a utility pole on Schacht Road.

“The pole was snapped in three,” said TOP Fire Chief Mike Folgert, adding that the overturned vehicle also sustained heavy damaged.

Additionally, due to the compromised exposure of live power and telecommunication lines, fire and rescue crews implemented additional safety measures such as shutting down the road during the rescue operations.

Over the course of about an hour, TOP firefighters worked with local emergency medical service crews, an official with the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin Public Service employees, to safely extract the driver from the vehicle amid utility line obstructions. Before commencing the rescue, Folgert and other officials ensured a secure work area for rescue crews, the vehicle occupant as the and the community to avoid further complications or injuries.

“When our guys arrived, the (individual) was still in the vehicle, and remained conscious and aware,” he said. “And we made sure that (the occupant) remained in the vehicle until we could secure (the safety) of the whole area. (The rescue) took awhile because (crews) were dealing with a lot of hazards.”

While the TOP fire department possesses the tools for more involved, delicate and complicated vehicle occupant extractions, Folgert informed the EagleHerald that such extreme measures were not required in Tuesday’s accident, despite the apparent and extreme physical damage to the vehicle.

“We were prepared but we did not need to use any of our extrication equipment,” he said and cited an adage he uses in such cases: “We always try before we pry.”

The firefighters worked with EMS to remove and secure the driver for transport to a local hospital. According to Folgert, the occupant suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

“It is fortunate that the individual was not hurt worse,” he said. “(Area rescue crews) work together all the time and everybody has their job to do, and the operation went flawlessly.”

Folgert also utilized this incident to send the message about what vehicle drivers and passengers need to heed when compromised power lines are involved.

“Just use caution around power lines,” he said. “Respect electricity. And if you are in an accident and there are power lines, if at all possible, stay in the vehicle. You are safe in the vehicle. Let us do the work to get you out.”

Firefighters remained on the scene to clean up crash debris and leaking fluids as the vehicle was removed. They cleared the scene by 11:30 pm while WPS worked through the night to replace the pole and reattach utility lines.

Formed in 1964, the Town of Peshtigo Fire Department answers the call 27/7 and 365 days per year to maintain the safety of the over 4,000 TOP residents. Its firefighters remain ready to respond at a moment’s notice through the use of a radio paging system. They implement rescues and other duties related to fires and various types of emergency situations across a 75-plus square mile area. The crew remains entirely volunteer.