Woman rescued after getting stuck between 2 walls

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by Michael Rollins and Art Edwards, KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on January 16, 2013 at 3:23 PM

PORTLAND -- Portland Fire Bureau firefighters rescued a woman Wednesday morning four hours after she somehow got wedged between two buildings at 12th and Columbia in downtown Portland.

The incident began about 3:45 a.m. when a woman was seen on a second-story area, a witness told KGW and ended about 7:30 a.m. when she was pulled through an opening cut in a wall.

The woman was taken to Oregon Health and Science University where she was listed in fair condition.

Lt. Rich Chatman, who spoke directly with the victim as she neared freedom, said she was cold "and she wanted to get out" but was otherwise in good spirits. "A real trooper," Chapman said. She was stuck in a space about eight inches across.

"We just assured her that we were doing everything that we could to get her out and we were going to get her out as soon as possible," he said, "We weren’t going home without her."

Watch: Woman finally emerges from between walls

Photos: Woman stuck between walls for 4 hours

The woman was yelling for help and was seen climbing on a wall before apparently falling between the two buildings, said the witness, who also called 911. She continued to yell after she fell.

She had somehow fallen about 12 feet into a tight space at the Gretchen Kafoury Commons and an adjacent building to the east.

Firefighters first tried a rope rescue, then decided to cut through the wall of a parking garage to free her.

The woman was alert, agitated but did not appear to be seriously injured. She was talking with rescue crews as they sawed through concrete block walls for several hours.

About 6:15, firefighters had managed to start removing sections of the wall. The woman's husband was also brought to the scene to help calm her.

Fire bureau spokesman Damon Simmons said the firefighters had been specially trained in urban earthquake rescues, including the use of saws to free victims.

An air bag was deployed in hopes of expanding the space between the wall. Soapy water was also applied, he said. A propane heater and flexible pipe also was used to keep her warm.

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