'Complicated, technical rescue': How Stamford firefighters freed a pinned truck driver on I-95

Deputy Chief Matthew Palmer was the first to arrive on scene after a dump truck hit the back of a tractor-trailer between exits 8 and 9 on the northbound side of the interstate.

Marissa Alter

Mar 6, 2024, 11:00 PM

Updated 47 days ago


A dump truck driver is alive following an extensive rescue effort on I-95 in Stamford Tuesday.
“I've been on the job almost 30 years in Stamford,” said Deputy Chief Matthew Palmer. “I can say that this would've been one of the most challenging if not the most challenging type of vehicle extrication that I have been confronted with, and I think majority of my colleagues would agree.”
Palmer was the first to arrive on scene after a dump truck hit the back of a tractor-trailer between exits 8 and 9 on the northbound side of the interstate. He said four other cars also had damage from the crash, but the concern for firefighters was the dump truck's driver.
“The entire engine compartment and all the dash console, including the steering wheel and steering column, had just pinned him up against the back wall,” Palmer recalled.
He told News 12 it was remarkable the man was alive and conscious, but what happened next was “a complicated technical rescue incident,” in part because of the size of the vehicles.
“There was a tremendous amount of weight involved,” Palmer explained, adding that the dump truck was full. “The type of impact that occurred was probably a worst-case scenario in how the driver was pinned up in the cab and there was virtually no room.”
Palmer said it’s not easy to move those types of vehicles on a good day but add in a rain-soaked highway with very limited space and this really required all-hands on deck. So, Stamford called in extra crews to help, including the Sound Beach Fire Department's rescue unit and members of the Greenwich Fire Department. Over 40 firefighters worked for just over an hour to get the driver free.
“This was absolutely a team effort,” Palmer said, thanking additional local and state agencies who responded. That included Connecticut State Police, Connecticut DEEP, Stamford police and Stamford EMS.
Two local towing companies, Lone Star Towing and Bill’s Towing, were also called in to help with the extrication, according to Palmer.
“We were able to lift the tractor-trailer—the forward vehicle—up slightly and that allowed us to use the winch on the heavy tow truck to gently guide the dump truck away from the impact point. That allowed Greenwich and Stamford firefighters to work simultaneously and slowly cut away the metal and other components pinning the driver,” Palmer explained.
The driver was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries to his chest, stomach area and lower body.
“The last report I had he was doing as well as could be expected,” Palmer told News 12.
He also said the successful save wasn’t surprising, in part due to the department’s talent and the city’s commitment to personnel.
“The outcome was predictable because we have highly competent firefighters, and they've invested in themselves, they've put in a lot of training. The members assigned to our rescue company are some of the most dedicated firefighters we have. They go through hundreds if not thousands of hours of specialized training to get there—whether it be scuba, high angle rescue or specialized vehicle extrication that they focused on,” Palmer said. “Yesterday was a great example of what their capabilities were.”
The crash shut down part of I-95 northbound for a few hours Tuesday. Four cars were also damaged and two people in them sustained minor injuries when the dump truck crashed into the tractor trailer. Connecticut State Police are investigating the incident.

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