Omaha fire fighters detail dangerous trench rescue mission

Omaha fire fighters detail dangerous trench rescue mission Tuesday afternoon

OMAHA -- The Omaha man who was trapped in an eight foot hole for six hours is now recovering, officials say.

Thursday afternoon the Omaha Fire Department gave a detailed account of its experience rescuing the man.

"Very frustrating, very strenuous, very taxing physically, but that's what we do," said Kevin Meschede, one of the fire fighters who helped rescue the 23-year-old sewer worker.

He spent several hours Tuesday digging through the hard clay that surrounded the man.

"One scoop level at a time is what it took and that's what we continued to do," Meschede said.

While emergency crews go through training to deal with these situations they said there was much to worry about in the 20-degree temperatures.

"Except now our hands are lower and where we're digging the potential for your hands to go numb increases," said Meschede.

Meschede says he was in that 12-inch wide hole, upside down, for close to 40 minutes.

"Their heads were laying on top of Mr. [Drew] Johnson the whole time, it was a very very challenging, and very very dangerous trench to be in," said Captain Terry Barney with the Omaha Fire Department.

The man was eventually pulled out and brought to safety.

OFD says it has now performed three trench rescues since 1997. Work safety officials report a total of 23 deaths nationwide from trench collapses in 2016.

Investigators say it could take up to six months to figure out what caused the trench collapse.

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