SANFORD, N.C. -- After a four-hour rescue effort at a local feed plant Monday afternoon, emergency responders helped a man to safety who had been trapped waist-deep in a silo containing dog food.
Authorities did not identify the man, who got his foot trapped in an auger at H.J. Baker and Bro. on McNeill Road. and then fell about 40 feet into a large vat of dog food being processed at the plant, said Sanford Fire Chief Wayne Barber.
Barber said the man was later airlifted to WakeMed in Raleigh, which sent a helicopter earlier in the afternoon to stand by in case a quick rescue was needed, although the flight appeared to be mainly cautionary. After being rescued, the man was decontaminated for several minutes, and rescue workers began leaving as the helicopter crew waited.
Barber said he saw several abrasions on the man, but didn't know if he had any broken bones from the fall and the subsequent pressure of the dog food in which the worker was buried.
"He had some bruises," Barber said. "I don't know if he had anything broken ... . He had his hard hat on, so there's no head injuries."
The man was also apparently quite dehydrated, Barber said.
He said responders lowered down a respirator to help the man breathe in the hot, dense air, and also lowered a firefighter in to help assess the situation, but they decided not to give him any water.
"Without knowing his situation, whether or not he might lose consciousness, we didn't want any water because we thought it could do more harm than good," Barber said.
Several dozen responders, from local agencies as well as from the Moore County Emergency Medical Services and WakeMed in Raleigh, came out to lend their support after the accident was reported at approximately 1:30 p.m. Barber said they managed to siphon some of the feed out of the mill, allowing them to rescue the man by just after 5 p.m. and get him hosed down.
Barber said after the man was rescued that he wasn't going to release the man's name, leaving it up to the company to do so. However, by late afternoon Monday, no one at the Sanford H.J. Baker could be reached by phone.