JUNE 12 , 2001
Basin Road, Hamilton Township
On the night of Tuesday, June 12, 2001, volunteers from Lawrence Road Fire Co. helped extricate a Lawrence Township emergency medical technician whose vehicle crashed while enroute to an emergency call.
It was shortly after 11 p.m. when Dean Simmons, 19, a Lawrence First Aid Squad member, left the Mercer County Capt. John T. Dempster Sr. Fire Service Training Center on Lawrence Station Road to respond to a call for a laceration victim on Trumbull Avenue in Lawrence Township. Simmons, who was part of the squads duty crew, planned to meet the other first aiders with the ambulance at the scene.
Simmons decided to use Basin Road as a shortcut and was driving over a narrow metal bridge at the border between Lawrence Township and Hamilton Township when he lost control of his Jeep Cherokee. The sport utility vehicle skidded off the roadway into a ditch running alongside the road and then slammed head-on into a small tree. An upper section of the tree snapped and limbs fell onto the Jeep.
Simmons, dazed by the accident, managed to use his radio to call a dispatcher at Mercer County Central Communications Center and report that he had crashed.
At that point, it was not known that Simmons had actually crashed in Hamilton Township so, at 11:11 p.m., Mercer County Central dispatched Slackwood Fire Co. with Rescue 22 from Lawrence Road Fire Co. and both an ambulance and Rescue 129 from Lawrence First Aid Squad.
Rescue 22 responded at 11:13 p.m. with a crew of Rescue Capt. Chris Longo, Lt. Chris Pangaldi, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Larry Forker, Ff. Charles Commini and Ff. Tim Kasony Jr.
A minute later, Chief John Fleming and Deputy Chief Richard Farletta responded separately in their respective chiefs vehicles.
Slackwood Deputy Chief Robert Santello and Rescue 129 both signed on radio at 11:13 p.m., while Engine 21-1 followed at 11:14 p.m.
At 11:17 p.m., Santello reached the scene and immediately moved several police vehicles to make room for fire apparatus on the narrow roadway.
Rescue 22 arrived on scene at 11:20 p.m., followed seconds later by Engine 21-1. Rescue 129 reached the scene at 11:22 p.m.
Firefighters found Simmons vehicle resting at an angle in the ditch, with its engine compartment crushed inward from where it had hit the tree. Another tree, located right next to the drivers side front door, made it impossible to reach Simmons from that side, while the limbs that had fallen on the Jeeps roof from the first tree initially prevented access to Simmons from the passengers side.
While Slackwood firefighters stretched a hoseline as a precaution, Rescue 22s crew used a chainsaw to cut away the fallen tree branches obstructing the Jeep.
Rescue 22s crew then went in service with their Holmatro tools.
As Longo and Pangaldi supervised, Kasony used the Combination Tool and Commini used the O-Cutter to pop open and cut off the rear passengers side door first, and then the front passengers side door. Joseph Dlabik Jr. assisted by holding the doors steady as they were being cut.
Commini, assisted by Longo, then used the O-Cutter to cut away a large section of the passengers side B-post. The front seat belt assembly was also cut away.
Once access was made, Rescue 22s crew stepped back out of the way. Squad 129, Rescue 129 and Station 21 personnel then stepped forward and, after laying back the front passengers side seat, placed Simmons on a backboard and slid him out of the vehicle.
Simmons was finally removed from the wreckage at 11:38 p.m. and was taken by a Squad 129 ambulance to Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton, where he was treated for chest bruises and later released.
Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 11:50 p.m., and returned to Station 22 by 12:01 a.m. Engine 21-1 and Rescue 129 also left the scene around the same time.
Engine 14-1 and Engine 14-4 from Hamilton and Enterprise fire companies, which were dispatched at 11:26 p.m. after it was determined the accident had actually occurred in Hamilton Township, remained on the scene to assist police.
Hamilton Township police, who investigated, later issued Simmons a summons for careless driving, according to newspaper accounts.