While preparing to install a telephone in Portland, Oregon, at about 3:50 P.M. on March 24, 1948, Wesley Schulz, a station installer for the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, heard the cry of "cave-in" from construction company workers engaged in digging a sewer trench about a block away. He hurried in his truck to the excavation where he was told that two crew members had been buried under twelve feet of moist, sandy soil when the walls of the trench collapsed.
Disregarding personal danger, Mr. Schulz got the 24-foot ladder from his truck, lowered it into the hole and climbed down. With the assistance of others who followed him, he began to dig with his hands in an attempt to locate the buried men. After about 30 minutes of digging, he succeeded in partly uncovering one of the men who, although conscious, was breathing with difficulty and in considerable pain. Mr. Schulz applied an oxygen mask furnished by a city fireman and removed the dirt from the man's chest and back to relieve pain and pressure. He was unable to remove him immediately as the man's legs were entangled with those of his fellow worker, who was still buried.
Mr. Shultz was continuing to dig for the other man, when the walls of the excavation collapsed a second time, covering him up to his chest. Fortunately, he remained erect and, in doing so, was able to prevent some of the dirt from falling on the others assisting in the rescue. He was soon free and continued his efforts to rescue the other buried man. This man was partly uncovered by Mr. Schulz about 15 minutes later. At that point there was room enough in the trench for only Mr. Schulz and one other worker, a doctor, who administered oxygen and adrenaline to the second man, but he failed to respond and was pronounced dead. The first man was removed at about 5:15 P.M. and the body of the second man was taken out at 6:00.
In his efforts to free the two men, Mr. Schulz worked continuously for more than two hours in the face of great personal danger from additional cave-ins. In addition, he did much to direct the rescue operations. His display of fortitude, courage, and initiative was highly commended by other rescue workers and observers, and through his heroic efforts, under hazardous conditions, he contributed materially to the saving of a life.
Schulz's brave efforts were recognized with a Silver Vail Medal
From For Noteworthy Public Service: Theodore N. Vail Medals National Awards
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