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On Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 8:51 AM, 3 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters and 1 LAFD Rescue Ambulance, a total of 17 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Captain II Jesse Cisneros, responded to an Escalator Injury with Traumatic Amputation at 14400 Erwin Street Mall in the Van Nuys Civic Center.

Los Angeles Firefighters responded quickly and were guided to a first floor lobby at the Los Angeles Superior Court, Van Nuys Courthouse West, where a mother was holding her injured 17 month-old son.

According to witnesses, the boy had been riding an escalator from the second to first floor, when a significant portion of his left index finger was traumatically amputated in the comb-and-groove of the foot tread at or near the lowest ('arrival') level of the machinery.

Quick thinking bystanders, including Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies on-duty at the courthouse, promptly swung into action - activating the escalator's emergency stop switch located at the base of the handrail to prevent further harm. The child was not entangled or trapped, but his detached finger was missing deep within the briefly turning escalator mechanism.

First arriving LAFD Paramedics were able to comfort and reassure the toddler, whom they described as calm and exceedingly brave throughout the ordeal. Paramedics soon confirmed through the hemorrhage that a significant portion of his inch-long index finger was missing.

Skilfully stemming the blood loss with a dressing and bandage, Paramedics placed the child and mother into an LAFD Ambulance as their colleagues began a relentless yet methodical search for the missing finger.

Aided by Sheriff's Deputies who pledged and delivered every possible amount of help, firefighters began the strategic disassembly of the massive machinery in a quest to save the boy's finger.

Personnel from the nearest Los Angeles Fire Station soon joined the effort with power tools to deconstruct the sturdy device piece-by-piece, as Sheriff's Deputies delivered the Escalator Maintenance Supervisor for the facility.

Releasing the tread deck to disassemble the escalator one massive step at a time, firefighters worked swiftly but carefully within the confines of the intermittently de-powered device, knowing that even the tiniest overlooked detail could cause grave personal injury to responders and possibly macerate the boy's missing digit.

Greatly aided by the expertise of the Escalator Maintenance Supervisor and Sheriff's Deputies, the team of firefighters soon had a sizable pile of the heavy steps removed from the treadmill-like machinery, as they rotated and examined the entirety of each and every gear, chain, step and pulley they encountered.

Keeping the receiving hospital abreast of their efforts, more than a dozen Los Angeles Firefighters worked non-stop for nearly 90 minutes until they found the missing finger. Pursuant of medical protocol, the finger was quickly placed in a cool, sterile dressing inside a clean plastic bag held tightly by firefighters, who sprinted to a waiting LAFD emergency vehicle.

Having proactively secured administrative approval for a 'light and siren' transport of the found finger, firefighters traveled swiftly but safely the 7.7 mile distance to the Richie Pediatric Trauma Center at Northridge Hospital, where renowned surgical teams awaited a chance to restore the child's missing digit.


Though any attempt to reattach the toddler's finger was not certain to be a success, the teamwork of Los Angeles Firefighters, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies, a County of Los Angeles Escalator Maintenance Supervisor - and especially the team at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, gave the young boy the greatest odds possible following a serious injury.

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department
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