Cooperative Effort Needed in Rescuing 5-Year-Old From Well Pipe

A fun night of watching the Fourth of July fireworks turned sideways for one tri-state family.

Just after 9 PM Thursday night, Evansville dispatch was called to the 1300 block of West Lloyd Expressway near One Life Church after a 5-year-old child fell into a well pipe leftover from an industrial operation that had been on that property.

“When they arrived it was discovered that it was a 30-feet drop straight down,” said District Chief second shift Mark Mastison. “It’s an old water well for one of the businesses in the area. It was too small for anyone to go down.”

The Evansville Fire Department’s Rope Rescue team was called in to assist with the rescue. Mastison says, several from the department were working together to try and find a way to pull the child up safely.

“We had the trucks all working on plans and finally came up with a plan to have a swing set seat and sled it down and got it underneath him,” Mastison said. “They wedged it to where it brought him up and we brought him up about six inches at a time.”

According to Mastison, a key part of the rescue was continuing to talk with the boy.

“He wanted his mom and dad, of course,” said Mastison. “As we were bringing him up, he was talking, he was crying some but he was very happy, once he got to his mom and dad.”

Once rescued, the child was taken to the hospital by ambulance for further evaluation.

“His condition was good,” Mastison said. “They took him to the hospital for evaluation because, being underground for that amount of time, you never know what kind of gases are down there.

“He was in very good shape. He was very helpful. Mom and dad were helpful. They did everything we asked to keep him going and to keep him talking.”

Mastison says, the idea to use a seat from a swing to pull the boy to safety was a collaborative effort from a team that’s trained to come up with rescue solutions.

“Our rope-rescue team is trained to do whatever they can to try and makeshift whatever they needed to get the young man out,” said Mastison. “That was just one of the ideas. The best thing to do was to get him to where we could basically take care of him.”

Rescue crews even tried to make their way down the hole themselves to retrieve the child, but Mastison says, the opening was too large for an adult.

“We tried to slide fire fighters down several times, but the hole was just too small,” he said. “It was about a 16-inch diameter.

Mastison credits the child’s parents for staying calm and providing a calming voice to the child while rescue workers moved quickly to pull the boy to safety.

“When you’re dealing with children, you always try and keep someone that makes them comfortable,” said Mastison. “When they’re talking with us, they don’t always feel comfortable.

“With mom and dad there, [he] felt comfortable. Mom could keep him talking and explained to him what we wanted to do. It was nice to have the family there. Mom did a great job for us.”

Mastison also credits the work and training by members of the fire department, who he says, are some of the best trained teams in the state.

“Our rope-rescue team trains on confined space,” said Mastison. “Normally we train on bigger areas, but we do whatever we have to do too get people out of there and out of the dangerous situation.

“It’s always nice when things turn out right. This worked smoother than some of the ones you’ve seen on TV. We were in contact with him the whole time. He was very cooperative. He just wanted out of the hole.”

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