Insights > Mountain View Linemen Deploy Bucket Truck for Life-Saving Rooftop Rescue

Mountain View Linemen Deploy Bucket Truck for Life-Saving Rooftop Rescue

03/20/2019

Eric Mitchell helps remove burn victims from the roof. (Photo courtesy of the Stone County Leader.)
Eric Mitchell helps remove burn victims from the roof. (Photo courtesy of the Stone County Leader.)
Eric Mitchell helps remove burn victims from the roof. (Photo courtesy of the Stone County Leader.)
Eric Mitchell helps remove burn victims from the roof. (Photo courtesy of the Stone County Leader.)

It was near quitting time March 15 at the Entergy Arkansas Service Center in Mountain View when serviceman Eric Mitchell and Ethan McClung, second-year apprentice, got a call from clerk Rebecca Wilson alerting them that the Fiber Energy wood pellet factory just down the hill was on fire.

The two jumped into Mitchell’s truck to disconnect power at the plant, which is standard procedure. As they approached, they saw that there were people on the roof of the two-story structure, and, even from the ground, could see that two of them were badly burned. Two employees of the plant had been on the roof trying to dislodge some burning material in a hopper when it exploded.  

The linemen quickly evaluated the situation. Two emergency medical technicians were on the scene, but firefighters were not – not yet. The fire was close to the ladder that led to the roof, so the EMTs were stuck on the ground. It was time for action.

Mitchell backed his bucket truck up to the building and lifted each of the EMTs and their emergency gear to the roof.

As McClung headed to the other side of the building to shut off power, Mitchell kept his head and his bucket in the game. Both victims were badly injured, but one more than the other. While EMTs worked on the worse case, Mitchell wrapped the first one in the gel blanket that all Entergy trucks carry in case of burn emergencies. Of the other case: “The EMT told me, ‘If we don’t get him down now, he’s not going to make it,’” Mitchell recalled.

Medical helicopters were on the way. City, county and state police, along with additional medical personnel, were now on the scene on the ground.

With Victim 1 strapped to a backboard, they placed him across the top of Mitchell’s bucket. “I wrapped one arm around him and controlled the bucket with the other.” He boomed the first victim down, McClung helped dismount him, then Mitchell went back up for the second victim.

EMTs administered treatment on the ground, and medflights rushed one victim to a hospital in Memphis and the other to Little Rock. Both are still hospitalized, and the reports the Mountain View staff are getting is that the men they rescued have a long recovery road ahead of them.

But without the assist from Entergy Arkansas, the outcome likely would have been much worse. “They 100 percent saved lives that day,” said Wilson. “Our guys are the best, and they were heroes!”

Mitchell, a 15-year Entergy Arkansas employee, shrugs off the praise. “I’m glad I was there for them,” he said.

And while Entergy doesn’t train linemen to rescue people from burning buildings, per se, the extensive training in first aid, CPR, and pole-top rescues prepares you for the unexpected. “The training helps you to keep your head in a stressful situation,” he said.

McClung was similarly nonchalant. “We were just there at the right time.”

Right time, right place, right equipment, right people. Entergy Arkansas is proud to claim these two good men as part of the team, and we wish comfort and healing for the two burn victims and their families.


David Lewis
Communications Specialist II