Pahrump Valley fire crews save truck driver

Pahrump fire crews responded to several single-vehicle rollover accidents over the past several days.

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services Chief Scott Lewis said the most serious of the crashes occurred Friday morning, May 4.

The accident involved a semi-truck carrying diesel fuel along Highway 127 in southern Inyo County, where a mutual aid response was activated.

The daytime temperature at the time, reached upward of 100 degrees.

The driver, Lewis said, was physically entrapped inside the cab of the semi.

“Once we arrived on location, we found the semi-truck with a fuel trailer that was overturned onto the driver’s side and was positioned on the dirt shoulder,” Lewis said. “The scene size-up and risk assessment found the truck cab severely crushed where we found the driver deeply entrapped within the cab to a point where he could not be observed. We determined that the fuel was diesel fuel where we assumed that the tanks were full.”

Lewis, who retained command of the scene, said Southern Inyo County Fire Protection crews also responded to provide additional assistance with the extrication process while diesel fuel was leaking from the side tanks of the semi.

“We assigned our Heavy Rescue One apparatus for the extrication process and our medic unit was assigned to patient assessment,” Lewis noted. “Amargosa crews came in as mutual aid and protected the scene with hand lines and we also added our Hazmat 51 apparatus to the assignment to secure the leaking diesel fuel.”

Additionally, the actual removal of the driver took several hours to complete.

“Crews quickly realized that the extrication process was going to be very complex and lengthy as the driver was severely trapped inside the cab,” Lewis said. “There was also an abundance of personal property that came down and pinned the driver on the inside. Both his head and arms were trapped between the outside of the cab and the window.”

Due to the positioning of the driver, Lewis said crews performed a “peeling of an onion” process just to gain access to the driver.

“Crews removed the contents of the cab piece by piece to get those contents off the patient to avoid any type of asphyxiation situation,” he said. “From there, we just started cutting the truck away from him until all of the areas entrapping him were removed.

He was eventually extricated from the vehicle and he was flown by Mercy Air to UMC Trauma. The entire process took close to three hours to complete.”

Fires, more rollovers

A second rollover crash occurred late Friday evening along Highway 160 at mile marker Nye 1.

“Upon arrival, crews found the overturned vehicle with the driver ejected,” Lewis said. “The patient sustained injuries that were consistent with transport to the trauma center. Mercy Air 24 was added to the assignment where a landing zone was established on the highway. Patient care was transferred and that patient was flown to UMC Trauma.”

The following day, fire crews were dispatched to the 4300 block of West Victoria Street for an unknown type of fire just after 11:30 a.m.

“Upon arrival, crews found a working brush fire,” Lewis said. “There were structure exposures, however, those exposures were protected and there was no further extension. That incident serves to be a good reminder that we are approaching brush fire season. The annual burn ban will be established within the next two weeks.”

On Sunday, May 6, fire crews responded to a report of another rollover on Highway 160, again at mile marker Nye 1, where the driver had self-extricated and was transported to Desert View Hospital just before 7 a.m.

Later on Sunday, fire crews were dispatched to the 1700 block of West Vondell Street for another unknown type of fire just after 3 p.m.

“As crews responded, they were notified that the fire involved a structure,” Lewis said. “Upon arrival, crews found an accessory outbuilding at the rear of the property with numerous exposures. That fire was quickly controlled with no further extension. Two desert tortoises were also saved. The investigation revealed that the fire was caused by the improper disposal of smoking materials in the dry brush.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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