What was already a busy night tour was about to get busier for the members of Engine 289, “The Corona Tigers.” On March 5th at approximately 0355 hours, E289 was assigned to an EMS Box for the number 7 train at Roosevelt Ave. and 103rd Street. No additional information was given. Simultaneously, TL138, the truck in quarters with E289, was assigned another box for a stuck elevator. E289 led by Captain Thomas Sussman arrived on scene and ascended the stairs to the train station above.

Captain Sussman made contact with the token booth clerk but received no additional information. Just then, two transit police on the scene informed Captain Sussman that a man was killed by the train. Captain Sussman wanted to verify this information with the train operator. Captain Sussman also radioed to his Chauffeur, Dave Eckart, to transmit the box for a man under the train. TL138, the closest truck, was unavailable. The train operator confirmed to Sussman that the train had run over and killed a man who had fallen onto the tracks.

With this information, the members of E289, which included FF Denis Dermody, FF Danny Gunther and FF Christoper Rodrguez, began trying to locate where the victim actually was. FF Dermody ascended the stairs back down to the street and from street level was able to radio the other members exactly where the victim was in relation to the car. Dermody remained below radioing his position to Captain Sussman until he came upon the location of the fallen victim.

There was still a chance that the victim was alive, so Captain Sussman requested his chauffeur to contact dispatch and have power removed from the track. Sussman also told the train operator to do the same through his dispatcher.

Captain Sussman went around the front of the train and onto the catwalk between the local track and the express track. With no truck on scene, Captain Sussman reached over the 3rd rail and under the train to check the man’s vitals. Sussman was able to determine that the man was alive and breathing but pinned under the train. The man was injured badly and bleeding from amputations to both legs. Sussman radioed this information to his chauffeur and the immediate need for more resources. FF Daniel Gunther, a former EMT, immediately climbed onto the catwalk and down onto the track. Gunther climbed over the 3rd rail and under the train to assess and control the man’s major bleeding while FF Dermody went back to the Engine to retrieve the longboard. With no other manpower or resources yet on the scene, Dermody returned with the longboard to the train. Dermody climbed down onto the track handing the longboard off to Captain Sussman. Knowing that power had not yet been confirmed off and with extreme risk, FF Dermody climbed over the 3rd rail and under the train joining FF Gunther. Dermody began to stabilize the victim’s head and prepared to package the victim. Dermody and Gunther quickly evaluated the situation and together determined there was no time to wait for units and specialty equipment to arrive.

The victim’s legs were amputated and he was bleeding out. He was in critical condition. The man’s backpack, coat and belt were pinned under the train’s wheels. The amputated left foot, and right knee were also under the trains wheels. Dermody, while operating in a pool of blood, was able to cut the man free with assistance from FF Gunther. Captain Sussman positioned the board alongside the man while Dermody and Gunther lifted him onto it. FF Dermody dragged the man out from under the train and over the 3rd rail and onto the catwalk.

The victim was removed to Elmhurst Hospital with amputations to both legs. The victim lived because Firefighters Dermody and Gunther put themselves in harm’s way operating under the train with a live 3rd rail in order to save his life.