ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque firefighters had an unusual rescue Tuesday, plucking a man from a storm drain. A stream of soapy water coursed through the garage at Albuquerque Fire Station 3 near the University of New Mexico, as crews cleaned the station’s fire trucks Wednesday morning, a much calmer scene than they’re used to.
“We have the unusual situations that our engines aren’t able to handle on their our own, the complicated calls,” says Captain Andrew West.
Like the call they responded to Tuesday afternoon, “We got called to someone stuck in a storm drain,” West says. Rescue crews say the man squeezed into the storm drain near Four Hills and Tramway. “I think sometimes people are using these sewer systems as shelter and I think that could be what we came across,” West says.
West says the drain opening is just wide enough for someone to slide into but difficult to get out of. “A surprising number of people run into this problem where they are stuck in a storm drain,” West says.
This is the third time West has responded to one of these rescues this year. Tuesday’s was a two-hour operation to get the man out. “We started the most simple we tried to wrap some pieces of rope around the person to help pull him out,” West says. “Our next step was going to cutting the metal that was blocking him; Cut that out with the saws that we have,” West says.
West says the man is lucky it wasn’t raining, otherwise, it may have been a different type of rescue. “When it rains that’s now a life-threatening situation, the water can start flowing up to 30 miles an hour, it can bounce people around and then it’s also going to put them at risk of drowning,” West says. The man was transported to the hospital for minor injuries.