Oil City Fire Department Helps Free Woman Trapped in Washington, Pa., Building Collapse

| July 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, Pa. (EYT) – Oil City firefighters, all members of the in-state Urban Search and Rescue team, played a key role in freeing a trapped Washington County woman from a collapsed building in Washington, Pa., Wednesday.

(Photo of the collapsed building in Washington, Pa. Photo courtesy of Oil City Fire Chief Mark Hicks)

Oil City fire firefighters Dennis Cherish, Noel Bartlett, and Jayson Hoovler, as well as Oil City fire chief Mark Hicks, were called into action Wednesday morning after an apartment building on North Main Street in the City of Washington collapsed around 8:30 a.m. trapping Megan Angelone, a woman in her 30s according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“We got called in about 9:30 a.m.,” Hicks said. “We were en route to Washington, Pa., about 10:30 a.m. I was actually on vacation and came from my vacation spot. We arrived down in Washington probably around 12:30 p.m. a quarter to one, and we departed there at 9:30 p.m.”

Cherish, Bartlett, and Hoovler were at ground zero of the rescue, according to Hicks.

“They were the first to actually make access to the female patient inside,” Hicks said. “What they did was they breached a ball in an enjoining structure. It was about four layers of bricks deep. They used old-style tools, hammers, and chisels, to chisel out the block. They made an access big enough for them to get through and also a stokes basket to get the patient out. They made the first contact with her.”

Because of the heat and humidity, the three Oil City firefighters were rotated out of the building before Angelone was actually rescued around 7:30 p.m.

“We are very fortunate in the city to have the guys we have,” Hicks said. “Honestly, they make my job a lot easier. We have a ton of talent here. I feel fortunate to have these guys. They are some of the best that are out there. I’m very proud of that.”

This isn’t the first nor the last rescue the Oil City Fire Department will be part of. That’s because Oil City is part of the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue team.

“Ourselves, the City of Erie, the Pittsburgh Region, are all part of it,” Hicks said. “We are Company Four, Pittsburgh is Strike Team One, which we are actually joining into.”

“What happens, when they events happen, a normal fire department isn’t necessarily able to or equipped to handle these situations. We’ve taken extensive rescue training not only for structural collapses but for water rescue and road rescue. Anything technical that isn’t handled by your regular, routine fire department we get called to assist.”

Hicks said Oil City, as an Urban Search and Rescue team, has close to a million dollar in assists and equipment that wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the state and federal government.

“Part of that agreement with those assets that we have is that we have to respond when we are called like we were (Wednesday),” Hicks said.

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Category: Local News, News