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Sault firefighters rescue 12-year-old girl by prying apart a tree

Erica Groot reports just a little bruise after she fell and got her leg stuck in a tree behind Greenwood Public School

A 12-year-old girl was rescued Saturday after her leg became wedged in a tree and local firefighters used the jaws of life to get her out.

On Saturday afternoon Erica Groot was playing with her sister Alicia and some neighbourhood friends in the backyard of Greenwood Public School said she and her mother Piper Lee Frech.

The kids call the game ‘Grounder’— one person is ‘it’ and with their eyes closed and arms out they try to tag another player and guess their name.

In the game people can hide off the ground on objects like playground equipment but if the person who’s ‘it’ says ‘grounder’ they become ‘it’.

Groot said she was hiding up a tree to get away from her sister, who was getting close, and as she descended to evade her she slipped and, under the force of her falling body, the lower part of her leg got stuck at the base of the tree where two sections of trunk met in a V-shape.

Neither Groot or her sister could get the leg free so Alicia ran home and got their mom.

Frech said she also couldn’t free the leg and it was turning purple so she called 911 and Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services dispatched two pumpers.

Platoon Chief Stan Martynuck said the call came in at 4:30 p.m.

Once on scene, firefighters took out a Jaws of Life like ‘spreader tool’ that is normally used to manipulate hunks of metal in automobile collision extractions.

Frech said on scene firefighters protected Groot’s head by giving her a firefighter’s helmet and then they put the spreader above her head to pry the tree apart.

Frech said once her daughter’s leg was free a firefighter picked her up and placed the girl in her arms.

Martynuck said the girl was free by 4:41 p.m and firefighters left her in the care of paramedics with Sault Ste. Marie Emergency Services and her mother.

Paramedics examined Groot, said Frech, however, aside from a bit of pain and numbness her daughter seemed fine and she was not taken to the hospital.
Groot’s condition seemed better three hours later and she was freely walking around though she said she had a tiny bruise..

Frech said was highly complimentary of the firefighters and paramedics calling them ‘amazing’ and saying that besides the ‘manly’ stuff they were also very sensitive and sweet to her daughter.

Regarding the use of the less-than-normal use of the spreader tool on the tree Martynuck said, “sometimes when we get called we get resourceful. It was the best tool we had for job.”

A cursory examination of tree afterwards found that, besides a few indentation marks from the spreader, it seems to be fine. 

Jeff Klassen

About the Author: Jeff Klassen

Jeff Klassen is a SooToday staff reporter who is always looking for an interesting story
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