First responders to crash improvised to save pilot's life - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

First responders to crash improvised to save pilot's life

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Spokane police say rescuing an injured pilot Sunday was almost 100 percent improvisation. Spokane police say rescuing an injured pilot Sunday was almost 100 percent improvisation.
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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Spokane police pride themselves on being prepared for anything, but officers say there's no training for the plane crash they responded to Sunday.

"I've been doing this 24 years and I've never had a rescue like this," Sgt. Chris Crane said. Crane arrived on-scene to find fellow Spokane Police Sgt. Kurt Vigesaa already inside the plane helping the pilot.

Meanwhile, the plane was crushed up against an overpass and leaking fluid.

"I just wanted to get [the pilot] out," Sgt. Vigesaa said. But it wasn't as simple as pulling the man from the aircraft. He was pinned upside down, and Sgt. Vigesaa risked hurting him further if he prematurely tried to remove him.

"It wasn't until he stopped breathing, then the choice was clear," Sgt. Vigesaa said. "We need to remove him immediately and open up his airway."

Both sergeants explained they're not really trained for a scenario like this. For each, it was the first plane crash they've responded to, so the answers weren't obvious upon arrival.

"It's almost 100 percent improvisation," Sgt. Crane said.

The pilot, Michael Clements of Alberta, Canada, was taken to Sacred Heart and remained in critical condition as of Monday afternoon. Spokane Police says without the quick work of their officers Clements likely wouldn't have survived. But the officers didn't walking away praising themselves as heroes.

"You just sit back and think, what could you have done better?" Sgt. Vigesaa said. "Did you do everything right?"

"I dreamt about it all night and thought about it all day," Sgt. Crane said.

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