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Monday, January 24, 2011

Water Main Break Prompts Swift Water Rescue Team Response

On Monday, January 24, 2011, at approximately 4:00 am, Prince George’s County Public Safety Communication dispatched the Fire/EMS Department to a 911 report of a personal injury accident with possible entrapment on the Inner Loop of the Beltway (Route 495/95) just south of the Central Avenue (Route 214) interchange. Fire/EMS units arrived on the scene to encounter two separate accidents (a single car up the embankment and two vehicles with minor damage) with the entire area covered by moving water. The Fire/EMS Department's Swift Water Team was summoned to assist a citizen that was safe but stranded on an embankment. A 54” water main break on adjacent commercial property allowed several thousand gallons of water to flow onto the Inner Loop. This water was described as being about 2-feet deep and moving swiftly. This caused icing of the roadway and swift water rescue challenges. The Inner Loop was completely shut down to ensure safety of the travelers, and first responders while the Swift Water Team prepared for citizen rescue. The Swift Water Team did not deploy as the stranded citizen was accessed by way of dry land from commercial property near his location. He was assisted up the embankment by firefighters to safety. After further assessment of the scene and evaluation of the patients; no injuries were found and all citizens refused transport to the hospital.  The Maryland State Police, State Highway Administration and WSSC were soon to arrive to manage the incident. Firefighter/Medics were clear of the Beltway by 5:00 am.

As a result of the 54” Water Main Break, areas of the County are experiencing water shortages from Capitol Heights to Oxon Hill. WSSC indicates this water shortage could last several hours. As a precaution, Fire/EMS Department officials re-deployed several large capacity water tankers. These Fire/EMS Department Tankers can carry up to 2500 gallons of water and were strategically moved throughout the areas plagued by low water pressure. As an added precaution, any assignment dispatched for a structure fire would receive an additional 2 engines which carry about of 500 gallons of water on-board.

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