A Life Saved Using Tools Acquired With Assistance To Firefighters Grants

BALLY, PA – The Goodwill Fire Company operates as the rescue company for many departments and territories in the rural, small town area of Bally, Pennsylvania. In many regions, departments covering areas with high populations of the elderly, youths, and low-income families experience difficulties in acquiring equipment due to limited tax budgets provided by those demographics.

The Goodwill Fire Department received a grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program that enabled the department to outfit one of its trucks with new equipment. 

Rescue Truck 14 was entirely refitted with new rescue equipment, including tools, a set of rescue lifting bags, and support equipment. The upgrades replaced outdated equipment that was not up to current standards.

This newly outfitted truck would prove vital in a life-saving rescue four days later.

It was January and snow blanketed the hills of Bally. Despite the blustering cold and snow, the trash collection for the area continued as normal. A trash truck stopped below the crest of a hill where workers collected refuse. Suddenly and without warning, a pickup truck drove over the hill and had to take evasive action to avoid hitting the trash truck. The pickup hit a mailbox and continued along the curb, striking a worker and pinning him beneath the truck. The snow limited access to the trapped man.

One of the first on the scene was Robert Eisenhart, an Ambulance Chief from a neighboring community. He saw access was limited and upon confirming entrapment, requested air medical to assist in transportation due to the rural location, mechanism of injuries, and extent of the entrapment. While the crews waited for the air ambulance, they worked on ways to free the trapped worker.

Eisenhart called Assistant Chief Mike Mutter to inform him of the situation. Mutter coordinated additional help from a nearby rescue unit.

"Eisenhart was attending to the patient as best he could due to the snow and insufficient access to the patient," Mutter said.

Mutter and Eisenhart formed a plan, and upon Mutter's orders, Rescue Truck 14 was immediately put into action. New Hurst Vetter Lifting Bags and new Hurst hydraulic tools (as well as wooden cribbing for stabilization) were used to lift and support the vehicle, which enabled rescue workers to remove the man from beneath the 4,685-pound truck.

The entire ordeal took less than 25 minutes, from the time Rescue 14 arrived at the scene to the successful extrication of the victim and transport to the landing zone. The rapid extrication is credited for saving the man's life, according to the firefighters involved.

Things may have ended quite differently had it not been for the new spreaders, lifting bags, tools, and support equipment acquired through the AFG award.

"Without the grant, these tools would not have been on our rescue truck when it responded to the scene," said Mutter.

Department Vital Statistics

  • Cardio Equipment
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Annual Physicals
  • Fitness Assessments and Counseling
Last updated February 11, 2021