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Fla. Rescuers Extricate, Transport 700-Pound Man

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Rescue crews in Hollywood, Fla., suspected the day would come. And they were ready.

About 7:30 a.m. Sunday, they received a call for help from a 700-pound man they had assisted in the past, said Battalion Chief Morris James. When paramedics arrived, they could not get the man onto a stretcher and out the door of his apartment in the 5100 block of Hollywood Boulevard. They put their plan into action.

"The most efficient way to get him out was to take out the wall," James said. "We'd already pre-planned that. We were hoping it would never be, but it happened."

It took about a dozen firefighters, paramedics and a Hazardous Materials team to get the job done, James said. While rescue crews stabilized the man inside the apartment, firefighters attacked the wall with a special saw that can cut through concrete. The Hazmat team ensured the building kept its structural integrity.

It took about 90 minutes to fashion the 6-foot-wide, 2-foot-tall rectangular portion below the man's bedroom window, back up the rescue truck to face the hole and move the man into the vehicle, James said. They took him to Memorial Regional Hospital and boarded up the hole.

Such procedures, James said, are very dangerous for the patient because of the delay in getting them intensive medical care. James acknowledged crews had been called to the home before on medical emergencies but said he could not identify the man or discuss his history because of state privacy laws.

As one crew extricated the man, another set of rescuers went to the 6400 block of Pembroke Road about 8:20 a.m. to treat a Jeep driver who had struck a tow truck at about 3:30 a.m., James said. He did not know why there was a five-hour delay in summoning help. The crash happened two hours after a fire inspector left a restaurant that went up in flames, he said. That one occurred about 8 p.m. at Ruffy's bar and restaurant in the 2300 block of North Ocean Drive, James said. The blaze on the first floor of the two-story building caused $20,000 in damage.

The restaurant was not occupied at the time, he said. The cause had not yet been determined later Sunday.

Meanwhile, the department continued responding to more routine calls for help on Easter Sunday.

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