At What Point in a Rescue Operation Should You Call 911?

When do you call 911 in case of emergency? In most cases it’s pretty obvious but in other instances it isn’t as cut and dry.

A perfect example is the court ruling that recently cost Dukane Precast, Inc. a $70,000 fine (not to mention the cost of the medical bills for the employee in question). Here’s what happened…

William Ortiz was in a sand storage bin outside Chicago Illinois when the sand beneath him shifted and trapped him with just his head above the sand line. Other workers in the area were able to free his arms and torso but his waist and legs remained trapped. Someone went and got the supervisor after 10 minutes and the supervisor ordered other workers to help free Ortiz but the sand kept shifting and they were unable to get him free.

After 90 minutes of being trapped and of trying to extract Ortiz, the supervisor finally called 911. It took emergency workers almost 4 hours to get him out of the sand and he was then taken to the hospital. He suffered damage to his lower back as well as a torn meniscus due to the pressure of the sand on his legs and lower back.

At issue is whether the supervisor should have immediately called 911 or whether or not he was justified in waiting till they had tried their own rescue attempts.

OSHA requirements for confined space state that a company is required to “develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees, and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.

While the first phase of this rescue plan seems to indicate that calling 911 is important, it also seems that an alternative is given in cases where they believe that they can safely do the rescue themselves.

Do you believe that Dukane was negligent? Should they have called 911 before attempting to free Ortiz? What it “negligence”?

Let me know what you think!