Several Corpus Christi firefighters were honored last week for their roles in extricating a local man from a Corpus Christi Grain Co. elevator on April 20.
Chuy Diaz was trapped in grain up to his waist for more than six hours, as firefighters worked feverishly to free the man.
"He was entrapped in the grain from his lower chest to the bottom of his feet. He was having difficulty breathing due to the grain around his chest, and the first responders at the scene immediately began removing the grain to allow him to breathe," Corpus Christi Fire Chief Randy Paige said at the ceremony.
Firefighters constructed a frame to shield the man from the possibility of further grain falling upon him. Firefighters were then able to remove the excess grain and free the man, who sustained no injuries from the incident and was back at work the next morning, Paige said.
"It's rare in these types of incidences that people trapped in grain survive, much less have no injuries," Paige said.
CCFD EMS Supervisor Robert Rendoa coordinated medical efforts in and around the grain elevator site. He made sure that EMS crews were getting everything the patients needed, such as IVs and fluids on a continuing basis. His role also included safeguarding the firefighters themselves, to make sure they were staying well hydrated, considering the dry environment they were subjected to in the elevator.
'The stress level was very high. The firefighters were in there, risking their lives to save this person, and the patient also was terrified to be trapped in there," Rendoa said. "This is a day-to-day job that we do. We train so that when the time comes, we can perform to the best of our abilities."
Firefighter Joey Magallan, on Engine 9, never saw the inside of the elevator while he worked at the scene, but his role was essential and directly assisted in saving Diaz's life.
He was tasked with cutting wood to make shores, which were then carried into the confined space of the grain elevator and erected to form a protective box for Diaz. This structure helped to ensure that additional grain wouldn't fall on Diaz.
"On a day like today, it's just a reminder that you're appreciated," Magallan said.