(Cushing, OK) Cushing firefighters were part of the recovery team called to a construction accident near Kickapoo Casino on Tuesday.  According to Cushing Fire Chief Brent Kerr, the department received a call Tuesday afternoon to help with the recovery of two men tragically killed in a trench collapse.  Agra Fire Chief Casey Walters suggested Cushing become involved after learning of the collapse.

“Chief Walters found out about the incident and told someone from the Southwest Lincoln County Fire Department that we had the equipment needed,” Kerr told KUSH.  “We got the call at 4:20 p.m. and were on the scene by 6:30 p.m.”

The equipment Kerr referred to is the Technical Rescue Trailer (TRT) acquired through Homeland Security grants.  Cushing’s unit provides technical support for Region 2.

“We have had hours and hours of training for such an incident, but this is the first time we’ve had to use it,” Kerr said.  “We’ve received awesome training from Homeland Security.”

Deputy Chief Chris Pixler said the department has 11 members who have each received over 200 hours of that training, but more are being trained all the time.

“We can only send three guys at a time,” Pixler said, “so not everyone has had the chance to complete the training.” 

The training proved to be an essential tool for the seven Cushing firefighters who helped with the tedious and arduous recovery.  Kerr said the excavation process was slow due to the constant risk of another cave in.  “It’s a lot like an archeological dig,” he explained, “you can’t dig straight down – you have to feather the dirt away from the hole.”

Picture a funnel of sorts.

Several fire departments were on the scene, including Oklahoma City Task Force One who worked in an advisory capacity while Cushing firefighters used their technical expertise.

In teams of four – two Cushing firefighters and two from the local fire department – they dug 30 minutes at a time.

Shovel after shovel of sandy soil.

Finally, late Tuesday evening, the victims’ bodies were recovered.

“I’m proud to say Cushing firefighters operated proficiently and professionally,” Pixler said. 

Who were those firefighters on the scene? 

Chief Brent Kerr, Deputy Chief Chris Pixler, Captain John Tull, Captain Josh Morris, Firefighter Jeremy Willman, Firefighter Daniel Myers and Firefighter Brent Foster  

“It was a sad deal,” Kerr said, “but I’m so proud of our guys.”

And so are we, Chief Kerr.