EL CENTRO — The El Centro Fire Department responded on Wednesday, July 10, at 10:56 a.m., to a request for assistance for a possible confined space rescue, as reported in a recent ECFD press release. Three homeless individuals who resided in the storm drains of the Imperial Valley Commons in El Centro needed assistance. On arrival, the first El Centro Fire Department unit assessed the situation and found an area with a confirmed confined space and collapse of the storm drain system, a request for additional resources was made through the mutual aid system.
Firefighters prepared and executed a plan to perform a prolonged technical confined space entry operation, according to the release. During the entry, no signs of any individuals were noted in the storm drain system. Due to deteriorating conditions in the confined space and after a search for victims, a tactical decision was made to perform a trench and excavation operation. With assistance of public works personnel, a careful excavation was performed, after the approximate two-hour-long operation it was deemed that no one was in the underground areas of the storm drain system.
Rescue crews remained on the scene until 5:04 p.m. A total of one Engine Company, one Rescue Squad, one Urban Search & Rescue Trailer, and one Battalion Chief responded bringing six firefighters to the scene from the El Centro Fire Department, per the report.
Resources from the NAF El Centro, Imperial County, City of Imperial, and City of Calexico Fire Departments added one Engine Company, one Truck Company, one Heavy Rescue, one Utility Vehicle, one Hazardous Materials unit, one Urban Search & Rescue Trailer, and one Battalion Chief bringing 13 additional firefighters to assist.
AMR Ambulance responded with one ambulance for medical stand-by. Other cooperating agencies included the American Red Cross, Imperial Irrigation District, City of El Centro Code Enforcement Division, Southern California Gas, AT&T, Charter Communications, City of El Centro Public Works Department, and the El Centro Police Department. There were no injuries reported to civilians or first responders during this incident.