Firefighter critically injured in crash on Oakland airport tarmac

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A veteran Oakland firefighter is now fighting for his life after the vehicle he was driving during a training drill flipped over.

An Oakland firefighter is fighting for his life after his truck overturned at Oakland International Airport, along a taxiway.

It is not certain exactly what kind of injuries 55-year-old Mitchell Ow sustained, but we do know he was not thrown from the cab of the firetruck. Ow is a 28 year veteran of the department and has been assigned to the Oakland Airport for seven years.

A quick response time is critical in any emergency, especially an airplane crash because jet fuel can accelerate the burn rate. So the firefighters are constantly practicing their skills. On Tuesday around 11:30 a.m., a simulated airplane crash drill was held. It is the type of drill that is done every month at the airport and the firefighter who was critically injured in the rollover accident was no rookie.

Ow was driving alone when he took a turn, at the Oakland maintenance center -- also known as the former United Airlines hangar. He lost control and the rig flipped over on its side.

The truck is called an aircraft rescue firefighting rig. It can hold 3,000 gallons of water and 420 gallons of foam, which means you have a huge load that's capable of shifting and flipping the rig over.

"It's just one person that is typically in the rig. From my initial reports... yes, he was wearing his seatbelt. I got an initial report that one of the firefighters unsnapped his seatbelt to get him out," Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed said. "This firefighter was one of our more experienced firefighters at the station."

There was an outpouring of support at Highland Hospital where Ow is in the intensive care unit. Battalion Chief Emon Usher says he was in the hospital room with Ow's wife when he got a thumb's up from his friend.

"She asked me to say hello to him and I said, 'Hello Mitchell' and he looked at me. That's promising, so we're hopeful," Usher said.

The exact cause of this accident is still under investigation.

This accident did not affect airport departures and arrivals.
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firefighter injuredcrashemergency drillOaklandOakland International Airport
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