It took rescue workers nearly two hours to free a construction worker buried to his chest in a Wednesday afternoon trench collapse, said Fire Chief Dustin Dienst.

Emergency personnel were called to the site in the 1300 block of Matteson Street, east of Faribault, about 12:30 p.m. following a report of the collapse. Workers there, said Dienst, were connecting utility lines from a rural residence to city sewer and water.

When firefighters arrived, the man’s coworkers had cleared the dirt away from the victim’s chest. The victim, who was conscious and breathing, was the only person in the trench at the time of the collapse.

The trench that the victim was working in was unprotected, Dienst said, so fire crews had to shore up the trench walls before making entry and begin digging to free the victim. Fire crews worked for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to free the victim. The victim was alert and talking the entire time and once freed from the weight of the soil, was able to walk to the awaiting stretcher to be transported to the hospital by North Ambulance.

The Faribault Fire Department and the Faribault Police Department performed an initial investigation and documented the scene. Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration was contacted. An investigator was dispatched to the scene to meet with the Fire Memorial Department and the workers performing the trenching.

“Trench rescues are a low-frequency, high-risk operation,” said Dienst. “Thankfully, we have the equipment and the training to perform this type of rescue. We don’t get calls like this very often and I am very happy with the results of this operation, as most trench collapse emergencies don’t end this well.”

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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