An elderly man falls in a crawl space under his house. 

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Anchorage Alaska on a cold morning I was awakened by that dam on call cell phone, I felt like I had just fallen to sleep, because I had just fallen asleep, because I just got home from a no heat call.

The woman on the other end of the phone was very excited she said she had water running all over her floors and she did not know where it was coming from. I asked, do you know where your main water shut off valve is? She answered, itís in the crawl space my husband is going to try to turn it off; I got her address, got dressed and went to her house. It was about 5:30 in the morning, the sun would be coming up in just another 5 and a half hours.

Before I continue, I want to talk about crawl spaces in seismic activity zones, you may not know this but Alaska has more seismic activity then California. If another big one hits Anchorage, there are going to be some dead plumbers under those houses. 90 % of all homes in Anchorage have crawl spaces, some are very tight (belly crawl spaces) and others you can do a duck walk through, but most are dirt and rock floors.

The main water valve is almost always in the crawl space, and almost never by the crawl space entrance. So you end up doing a lot of crawling.

Back to the story, I arrive on the job, the woman meats me at the door, she is an elderly woman, I can see water all over the floor and I can hear the water running, so I say, I guess your husband was not able to turn the water off , she said he fell in the crawl space, I ask is he alright? She says, I donít know, I asked did you call 911, she says no, I say where is the crawl space, she shows me the way, I jump down there to check on her husband, he is just lying there, I ask are you ok, he says yes, just roll me over to my side, I can see that he can not move his legs, so I say sir let me call an ambulance, if I try to move you I may cause you more problems, so he starts to drag himself with his hands, I say please sir donít move Iím calling 911 so I go back to the entrance and call 911, while Iím waiting for the ambulance and the fire department, I crawl over to the main valve and turn the water off, now that the water is off, the old man decides he is going to drag himself out of the crawl space, short of lying on top of him, there was no way to stop him, his legs were still not moving and he was pulling himself along with his arms. At this point I figured I should lye down under the opening to the crawl space, so that he could climb on top of me and I could raise him up to the main floor. By the time he got on my back the fire department arrived and pulled him the rest of the way out of the crawl space.

I told the paramedics he had fallen and was not able to use his legs, His wife says, he was not able to use his legs for years. I felt a little foolish.

Although the old man was not injured and I over reacted because I did not know all the facts, The Anchorage fire department, seeing as they were there anyway sucked up all the water from the garage and as much as they could from the carpet, they even helped me get the old water heater that was the cause of all this trouble down off of itís platform. Hats off to the Anchorage Alaska Fire department and the Paramedics too.

 

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