A man sheltering in a garbage Dumpster was saved in a dramatic rescue by the Burlington Police and Fire Departments after he became trapped inside a Burlington recycling truck, and was compressed several times by the mechanism used to compact recycled plastic and cardboard.
The man suffered serious fractures throughout the left side of his body, including a broken back, but was found conscious by emergency responders and transported to Lahey Hospital.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Michael Patterson, emergency personal were contacted by a 911 call shortly before 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, but the call was dropped. A few minutes later the same number called back and a man reported he had been sleeping in a Dumpster near Market Basket at 43 Middlesex Turnpike when the container was lifted off the ground and he had been had been dropped into the recycling truck, along with the contents of the Dumpster. The man said that he had been compressed by the hydraulic compressor several times, and that he was unsure where he was.
Police began searching for the truck, using support from T-Mobile to track the location of the phone call. Eventually, thanks to the assistance of another recycling truck driver, they were able to locate the truck in the parking lot of Panera Bread.
"Police spoke to a recycling truck driver who then communicated with a friend who was driving the truck that the man was stuck inside," Patterson said.
When the police and fire departments located the truck, they discovered he had been buried in recycled cardboard, and his movement was limited due to his injuries.
"The rescue would prove to be a very difficult extraction. The man was located at the bottom of the recycling trucks hull, which is about 12-15 feet in depth, so we had one ladder to climb onto the top of the truck, and another ladder to climb down into the hull," Patterson said. "We then had a team work on removing the cardboard from the truck so we could access the man, which was difficult because the wet and snowy conditions led to the cardboard ripping and tearing in their hands."
Eventually the team was able to place the man onto a back brace and then a specialized stretcher called a rescue basket frequently used when rescuing victims out of bodies of water. The fire department then used a ladder truck to engineer a crane system that was able to lift the rescue basket out of the back of the truck and into an ambulance, which rushed him to Lahey.
In total, the rescue took more than an hour, but the man was conscious and is expected to recover from his injuries.