Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Safety net both saves and injures worker on Donora-Monessen Bridge

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rick Glover wanted a drink of water.

After falling Monday afternoon from anywhere between 50 to 100 feet off the Donora-Monessen bridge in Rostraver, the 48-year-old construction worker was conscious, alert and talking when Mon Valley EMS arrived.

"He was thirsty and didn't have a whole lot to say other than he wanted a drink of water," rescue technician Paul Buchko said. "And he was complaining about the pain."

That pain resulted from falling off a support structure on the underside of the bridge, where he was sandblasting steel girders for painting, and into a safety net tens of feet above the Monongahela River.

Mr. Glover was in Allegheny General Hospital's intensive care unit Tuesday morning with several broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, punctured lung and fractured scapula.

"The net saved his life," said Mon Valley paramedic Sean Cummings, adding that the net is also what caused the injuries.

"He took a big tumble. The force and velocity of him falling and sliding down, that's how he sustained the rib injuries."

Mr. Cummings descended down a ladder to a small catwalk, where he walked over I-beams and fastened into a metal decking before sliding down a tarp to reach Mr. Glover. There, he was able to establish an IV line and inject Mr. Glover with pain medication.

"This was what we call a technical rescue," Mr. Cummings said.

As he assisted Mr. Glover, crews lowered a rescue basket, to which Mr. Cummings secured Mr. Glover before being lowered to the shore, taken up a hillside, driven to the Monessen boat launch and ultimately flown by helicopter to the hospital around 6:30 p.m.

Randy Margarcelli, deputy chief of Mon Valley EMS, said the emergency call came at 4:24 p.m. and that rescue workers were on the scene within 15 minutes.

Both EMTs said Mr. Glover could not explain what happened with the fall.

"It's not an everyday thing," Mr. Buchko said. He estimated the fall at greater than 50 feet.

Mr. Glover, of Dilliner, works for J.F. Shea Construction, a California-based company with an office in Donora, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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