At 1:33 pm the Portsmouth Fire Department received multiple 911 calls for an overturned crane on the northbound side of the Sakonnet Bridge.
Portsmouth Fire Department responded with Rescue 3, Engine 1 and Tower Ladder 1. Tiverton Fire Department received 911 calls for the same incident and responded with their assets. Fire officers also summoned marine assets, as some reports indicated that the crane operators had been thrown into the water.
Marine assets from multiple agencies provided security during rescue and recovery operations, as spectator boats were positioning in harm’s way.
Prior to arrival and based on call information, fire officials requested a heavy wrecker to the scene.
Firefighters arrived 7 minutes after the first 911 call. On arrival, firefighters established communication with the trapped workers and determined no victims were in the water. The workers communicated that they had only minor injuries.
Command staff, because the incident appeared to be stable, ordered that rescue efforts be halted until the over turned vehicle was secured by the responding wrecker. A second crane, designed for bridge work was also dispatched to the scene to retrieve the trapped workers.
Portsmouth Fire rigged a rope system from their ladder truck and prepared to repel to the trapped workers should the incident become unstable. The heavy wrecker arrived at the scene 18 minutes after the first 911 calls and 11 minutes after the arrival of firefighters.
At 2:49 pm, the shaken and slightly injured workers were returned to the road surface. They were immediately provided medical aid by fire department EMTs; eventually transported to the hospital by Portsmouth and Tiverton Fire Department ambulances.
Crews continued to standby until all recovery workers were out of danger.
Crews from Naval Station Newport covered the Town of Portsmouth during the incident.
Chief Michael Cranson stated, “I am so proud of the coordinated response of the various agencies and extremely grateful that there was no loss of life or serious injury today”.
During the incident, Portsmouth Ambulance transported a patient with a serious cardiac issue to Charlton Memorial Hospital. Due to the seriousness of the illness and the availability of specific treatments at Charlton, the ambulance drove on the wrong side of Route 24 until past the scene. Crossing back on to the right side of the highway in Tiverton.