Vacuum Excavation plays life saving role in trench rescues

Fire Departments are starting to see that using a vacuum excavator can help with a much faster rescue for trench collapses since every minute is critical.  Using vacuum excavation can save at least 80% of time compared to traditional digging.  Before, rescuers have been using 5 gallon buckets, garden and army shovels.  This process is obviously slow, and a rescue can take 4-1o hours.

As much as 65% of all trench cave-in deaths are of would-be rescuers.  Vacuum Excavation provides a safer option as rescue crews can also be kept out of harm’s way in case of a secondary collapse.  Trench collapses are one of the most time consuming rescue operations as well as the most labor intensive.

A vacuum excavator plays a crucial role in breaking up and removing soil from around the victim in a timely manner. Using air excavation can help break up the soil as the vacuum truck works to suck up the debris. Every cubic foot of dirt can weigh up to 145 pounds. Getting the debris removed in a safe and efficient manner can literally mean the difference between life or death.

Recently, a Captain with the Toronto Fire Department told Canadian Underground Infrastructure, “Vacuum trucks are a definite asset to have.”

trench rescue can be done vacuum excavation
A trench rescue in Portland, Oregon (Image Source: