High Angle & Confined Spaces, News, Technical Rescue

VA Firefighters Rescue Driver as Tractor-Trailer Hangs from Bridge

A firefighter is lowered to remove the driver from the cab
Photos courtesy the Chesapeake (VA) Fire Department

Virginia firefighters participated in a spectacular rescue this morning after a tractor-trailer was left dangling from a bridge high above the water.

Chesapeake firefighters were dispatched to the Interstate 64 Bridge at 8:42 a.m. on April 13, 2020, after a tractor-trailer jackknifed in the westbound lanes, according to a press release from the Chesapeake (VA) Fire Department.

First-arriving resources from the ChesapeakeFire Department reported the tractor hanging off the side of the bridge with the driver still inside. A Regional Technical Rescue Response was requested which brought in additional specialty resources from Norfolk Fire-Rescue and the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

The tractor-trailer was first stabilized w1th the assistance of heavy equipment from Hudson’s Servicenter and Fink’s Wrecker Service to prevent additional movement. Then a series of complex and advanced rope maneuvers were used to lower a technician over the bridge, harness the driver, and lift him to a safe position.

Crews completed the high-angle rope rescue 70 feet above the Elizabeth River as severe thunderstorms pushed through the area. At 9:47 a.m., the driver was transferred to a Chesapeake medic unit and transported to a local hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. The Virginia State Police are investigating the cause of the accident.

An overview of units on the bridge
The trailer of the vehicle on the bridge
A view from a fireboat of the cab dangling off the bridge

RELATED FIREFIGHTER TRAINING

The Physics of Rope Rescue Operations

Rope Rescue/Rappelling Training Deaths: Five Lessons

Vehicle Rescue Building Blocks: Stabilize the Vehicle

VEHICLE STABILIZATION THE FOUNDATION