SALISBURY — Speaking yesterday for the first time, Salisbury officials released preliminary details of Friday's accident that claimed the life of 27-year veteran Salisbury firefighter Lt. Timothy Oliveira.
Town Manager Neil Harrington spoke of the incident yesterday after getting a report from Salisbury Emergency Management director Bob Cook, who was called to the Salisbury Fire Station during the ordeal.
Harrington said Oliveira was in charge of vehicle maintenance at the department. He was changing the oil on the fire department's Ford Explorer behind the Lafayette Road fire station Friday afternoon when the accident occurred. He had jacked up the vehicle from the front end and was under the vehicle lying on his back on a low, wheeled board commonly used by mechanics to roll themselves under cars, when the jack malfunctioned, Harrington said.
"Somehow, the jack failed, and the car landed on his chest," Harrington said. "He was found by a Salisbury firefighter at about 12:40 or 12:45 (p.m.). When he was found, he was unresponsive."
Firefighters at the station raced to extricate Oliveira from under the Explorer. They lifted the vehicle off him and finding Oliveira was not breathing, began CPR immediately to resuscitate him, Harrington said. Because the engine of the Explorer was hot from being run prior to working on it, Oliveira also had burns on his chest.
AMR ambulance was called and originally took Oliveira to Anna Jaques Hospital, Harrington said. Soon after, Anna Jaques called for a medical helicopter transport to airlift Oliveira to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Harrington said Oliveira was breathing and had a pulse when he was airlifted to Boston. He died Sunday.
Harrington lauded the firefighters who fought through their emotions to come to the aid of their colleague.
"Everyone responded as they should have, from the first person who found Tim, to those who worked on him afterward," Harrington said. "They found the inner resolve to act appropriately. They responded as they would to any citizen in Salisbury who needed them. It's amazing what those guys did under the most extreme circumstances."