He spent hours under a home to help a man trapped in a collapse: 'This may be your last call'

Posted at 5:04 PM, Oct 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-02 17:04:10-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- "This may be your last call."

That's what Colonial Heights Firefighter Terry Schane said runs through his mind every time he's called to help in an emergency.

Schane said that feeling was particularly strong recently when he spent three hours working to save a man trapped under a partially collapsed Petersburg home.

In addition to being a Colonial Heights Firefighter, Schane is a member of the Crater Regional Technical Rescue Team.

"We train on all aspects of tech rescue, rope, confined space, structural collapse, trench, water rescue, and wide area searches," Schane said.

Colonial Heights Firefighter Terry Schane

On September 25, Schane and the team responded to a home for a man trapped in the basement after a partial collapse of the first floor.

"On the initial entry team, it was myself and Michael Giggenheimer, Captain, with Fort Gregg-Adams," Schane said.

For nearly three hours, both firefighters stayed under the house where the threat of another collapse was very real.

While the goal was to get the trapped man out, that wasn’t the first thing the rescuers had to do.

"It’s a slow, methodical moment," Schane said. "We have to build up and structurally support the floor and basically create our own path into the victim."

Once they reach the trapped man, the rescuers also become comforters.

"The biggest thing is to stay calm because it’s just another day for you. For them, it’s life-changing," he said. "He was pinned between his ankle and his knee on his left side."

Colonial Heights Firefighter Terry Schane

They gave the man an IV to help manage his pain and the trauma to his leg.

While Schane and Giggenheimer stayed under the house almost the entire time, other Tech Team firefighters were in and out working to stabilize the home.

“Every move we made, something else moved that we would have to compensate for," Schane said.

Colonial Heights Firefighter Terry Schane

Nearly three hours after the collapse, the tech team is able to bring the man out to a waiting helicopter.

The man was treated at the hospital where he was listed in stable condition.

The rescuers were in need of some help too.

"The mental toll does weigh on you and you learn to deal with certain things throughout the year," Schane said. "You have a peer support team or peers to lean on, fellow firefighters at the house you can talk to."

The Crater Regional Technical Rescue Team trains 10 months out of the year and averages eight to 10 calls a year.

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