MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Loris family is counting their blessings after a man survived an hours-long rescue from a muddy pit that had him trapped Monday night.
The case ended about as positively as it could have; the man lived through the ordeal after being airlifted to Grand Strand Medical Center.
It took several hours and multiple rescue departments working together for him to be dug out of the pit by hand before he was even able to be airlifted to the hospital.
Firefighters and volunteers stood on wooden planks and used buckets, shovels and whatever was around to try to dig the man out of what could have been his grave.
Fortunately for him, that rescue was successful. Many times, however, there simply is not enough time, which is why the fire department trains regularly for this rare event.
"A lot of times with trench rescue it can become a body recovery, just because with the pressure of the sand or the dirt, or whatever material it is. It can end up killing someone pretty quickly, or by the time we get there maybe they're under it," said Lt. Jon Evans, public education officer for the Myrtle Beach Fire Department. "It's a time-consuming thing and we want to make sure we do it right. Sometimes it's not always easy for us to get them out. In this case, the person still being alive, that's a success. Everything else doesn't really matter."
Mike Norket, the deputy chief of Horry County Fire Rescue, said crews worked for over five hours to ensure Monday night's rescue was a success.
"We used a vacuum device to remove some of the water and mud that was trapping the victim," he said. "The process is that you have to shore up around the victim so it's safe for us to enter and get them out."
As unusual as the situation is, fire departments across Horry County actually train for it every year.
"We do all sorts of training throughout the year. We do hazardous materials training, we do extrication training," Evans said. "We also do trench training, which for us doesn't happen all that often, but when it does we want to make sure we're prepared."
The rescue Monday night was deemed a success both by Evans and Norket by the standard that matters most; at the end of the shift, make sure everyone goes home alive.