Lower South Hill Technical Rescue and Mass Casualty Incident

Tour Commander, 509.625.7100

Monday, August 23, 2021 at 10:03 a.m.

Despite the lunchtime traffic congestion on South Freya Street and East 5th Avenue yesterday (8/20) at 11:51 AM, SFD resources swiftly responded to what was first called in via 911 as a simple traffic collision near the intersection. After having received multiple 911 calls, dispatchers quickly upgraded the incident to an extrication response. However, the first arriving companies encountered something much worse. 

A large dump truck pulling a flat-bed trailer containing large excavation equipment plummeted down South Freya Street with little to no braking. The truck continued downhill violently striking occupied cars in its path and eventually ramming through a business building and into an occupied Dutch Brothers Coffee Stand. The first arriving companies did an exceptional job at managing a very chaotic, dangerous, and spread-out scene (the debris field from the crash was approximately one to two blocks long).

Resources from the SFD's Tech-Rescue Team, EMS Division, and additional Chief Staff joined the incident immediately. Due to the number of potential injuries and trapped occupants below the structure(s) debris, a mass casualty incident (MCI) was declared. The MCI declaration activates an existing plan with local hospitals to manage the movement of patients so that injured persons receive the correct level of care and one facility does not become overloaded. Additionally, in-house hospital staff and notified, off-duty staff are called in, scheduled surgeries may be delayed in anticipation of trauma cases, and regional healthcare networks are activated as a contingency. 

SFD Paramedics and AMR transport units treated and transported a total of 7 patients that were distributed among local hospitals. The technical rescue teams extricated all of the trapped occupants and accounted for everyone that was on the scene. All patients were taken via ambulance in fair condition and non-life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, at least one patient sustained more severe injuries and remains in the hospital today.

This collision is currently under active investigation by the Spokane Police Department, and any further releases will come from their agency.

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