A woman who had her hand freed from a safe on Tuesday will be stopping by Station 16 at 10 to say thank you to the firefighters in person for helping her.
Chattanooga Fire Department firefighters responded to the scene of an extrication operation that spanned several hours in Hixson on Tuesday night.
The incident happened around 8:30 p.m. at the Tiger Mart convenience store at 3504 Hixson Pike.
An employee was found sitting on the floor with her left hand and arm stuck in a cash dispensing safe. She was trying to make sure the money she deposited was secure in the machine, but then realized she could not get her hand out. Several of her fingers were caught in the tumbler on the locking mechanism.
Multiple units arrived on the scene to help the woman and an endoscopic camera was used to get a look at the mechanical parts inside the safe.
Officials spoke with the safe manufacturer to get information on how to take the device apart without causing harm to the patient.
Crews had to dismantle the counter to get to all sides of the safe and they developed several plans to get it open.
As they worked through each plan, it was determined that additional equipment was needed.
Squad 7 was contacted to bring USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) 1 and USAR 2 to the scene. When they arrived, the equipment from those trucks was used to take the safe apart. A wool blanket was placed over the employee to protect her from sparks.
A special saw was utilized to cut through the back of the safe. After the back of the safe was opened, the vending motor was removed and the mechanism was then manipulated. The woman’s fingers were freed after nearly three hours of hard, meticulous work.
She was transported to the hospital to get checked out after her long ordeal. Her hand and fingers were bruised, but there didn’t appear to be any serious injuries.
The companies that responded were Quint 16, Squad 19, Squad 7, USAR 1 and 2, Car 306, Car 44, Battalion 3, and Battalion 2. They were assisted by HCEMS Medic 14 and their supervisors who did patient care while the work was being completed.