San Franciso firefighters use airbags to push BART car off pinned man

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San Francisco firefighters used an unusual tactic to free a man who fell between a BART car and the platform in San Francisco Wednesday night. (KGO-TV)

The quick thinking of San Francisco firefighters saved a man pinched at the waist between a BART train and the platform. The man was conscious and talking as they tipped the train to pull him out.

RELATED: Major BART delays after man pinned in SF

This is the first time SFFD has ever done this type of rescue. They pushed a train car over with inflatable airbags to rescue a trapped man.

"They did an incredible job and it was a very unusual circumstance," said San Francisco Fire Battalion Chief Charles Crane. "We've never had that before."

Crane arrived to an astonishing scene at 24th and Mission Streets--a man pinched at the waist between the second BART car and the train platform.

"He was very fortunate," said Crane. "Exactly how he maintained half his body above the area of the car, otherwise he would have been under it and obviously would have not survived."

A witness, too shaken to go on camera told ABC7 News the man appeared to be intoxicated stumbling in front of the car as it pulled into the station around 6:00 p.m. "He was conscious, unbelievably he was still alive and speaking."

Firefighters isolated the train car. "Turning the power back on, which is a tricky situation, you're not supposed to do it, but knowing where the victim was I felt safe," Crane added.

Then they used airbags to push it away from the victim. "It comes out as flat as a pillow. It's very large. They're called airbags, but they're very large, about 16 inches and they can move 20,000 pounds."

But before they could free him, rescuers had to make sure the circulating blood didn't shock his system, which could have killed him.

"He gave the appropriate medication before we released the pressure so we could avoid the crush syndrome," Crane told ABC7 News.

Crane says firefighters freed the man in around 20 minutes and that the victim is believed to be in his late 20s.
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