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Trench rescue emergency responders honored at Allentown City Council meeting

Allentown City Council trench rescue proclamation
Jay Bradley / LehighValleyNews.com
Council president Daryl Hendricks shakes hands with a paramedic receiving the printed proclamation

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — First responders involved in the Jan. 11 trench collapse rescue in Allentown were recognized Wednesday with formal thanks from the city — and a proclamation in their honor.

  • Allentown City Council formally thanked and recognized the emergency workers involved in the trench collapse rescue on Jan. 11
  • Emergency workers from 10 departments were recognized for their role in the rescue, with one council member calling the rescue textbook in execution
  • The rescue involved an over eight-hour ordeal by emergency workers following a trench collapse on a construction site in Allentown

Each first responder present was given a copy of the proclamation with a city letterhead and signed by the city council members.
The proclamation was brought forward by Councilman Ed Zucal, who said he has emergency training and was at the rescue scene for some of the time.

"That gentleman is alive because of you guys, there's no question in my mind," Zucal told the first responders. "Shoring up the hole as you did, providing heat for his drop in body temperature as you did, and very cautiously the time that you took to make sure that no further damage was done — I don't really have any other words to say except that you guys were that man's gift from heaven."

Two men were in severe danger when, on Jan. 11, the trench in which they were doing construction work near 15th and Gordon streets in Allentown collapsed.

One man quickly was rescued with a ladder while the other, Jason Hansell of Emmaus, was trapped and covered in dirt up to about his chin.

"That gentleman is alive because of you guys, there's no question in my mind."
Allentown Councilman Ed Zucal

After more than eight hours of work, rescue crews pulled Hansell out about 10:15 p.m. to applause from a group of bystanders.

He was taken by ambulance to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, where he spent more than four days. Investigations of the incident were announced by the city and OSHA.

Departments celebrated by the proclamation include:

  • Allentown Fire Department
  • Allentown EMS
  • Allentown Police Department
  • Allentown Public Works Department
  • Lehigh County Special Operations
  • Macungie EMA
  • PA USAR Company 3
  • Scranton Fire Department
  • South Whitehall Township
  • Lehigh County Task Force Rehab 101

Well over a dozen first responders from the groups were at the meeting to collect printed proclamations and to hear the thanks of the city.
The city also made note thanking UGI and PPL for assisting during the rescue and Bucks County for standing by.

"All over the country, people do very good things, they save lives, and they're never recognized," Zucal said. "There are certain procedures you must go through when you have a rescue like that. Those guys did a textbook job, there's no other way to put it."

Allentown Emergency Workers Proclamation
Document provided by City of Allentown councilmember Ed Zucal
The proclamation delivered by the City of Allentown to emergency service workers present at the February 1 meeting