The Missoula Fire Department reminds homeowners and those involved in construction to use extreme caution when working in or around trenches. 

Fire Department Rescue Team member Justin Walsh said that Missoula City Fire conducts trench rescue training once a year.

"We need to be prepared for everything, so once a year we get together to conduct our rescue team training refresher on the trench rescue scenario," Walsh said. "The soil like to move when its been dug up, and if people are digging and don't have the appropriate safety measures in place, it can be catastrophic."

Walsh said the training consists of putting together and utilizing the safety equipment necessary to effect the trench rescue.

"We usually train on a 10 foot wide trench," Walsh said. "That gives us a chance to get out our equipment and get everything set up for a rescue, and then actually get a rescuer in there to assess the patient, and effect the extrication."

Walsh said his rescue team works on all types of scenarios.

"We would deal with a full burial, a partial burial, or we could just deal with someone standing on a pile of rubble on the bottom, not able to get out, so we need to be prepared for all aspects of that rescue."

Trench rescue is all about safety, both for the rescue team and for the victim. The crew works quickly to construct a safety box before sending a team member down to rescue the victim, a time and labor-intensive effort. Walsh has advice for anyone who may be in a situation where they may be working in a trench over the heads.

"Well, if you'll be digging and working below the surface of the ground, and it's over your head, then I would recommend making sure that you have the appropriate safety boxes or safety implements in place so that you don't get caught in something like this," Walsh said.

Fire Department Rescue Team Member Justin Walsh