He said it took about 35 minutes for eight firefighters using two sets of Jaws of Life cutting tools to rip through the metal framework around the windshield, remove the glass and get into the bus to treat the driver, who was conscious and alert during the operation.
“He was communicating with the crew as they cut him out,” Beardsley said, adding that the operation was particularly difficult because the bus was about 30 feet off the road in the snow.
“That made the extrication pretty tough,” he said.
As all this was going on, a Boston MedFlight helicopter was called to take the driver to a Boston hospital. State police closed down the northbound side of I-95 to allow the helicopter to land.
“They landed right near the accident,” he said. “They were on the ground for 20 minutes while crews were doing the extrication.”
Cars were detoured onto Route 133. Once the helicopter had taken off, one lane of the highway was reopened, allowing a single lane of cars to slowly stream past the scene.
At first, Beardsley said, a decision was made to get a bus to carry the non-injured players from the scene.
However, he said, it soon became apparent that everyone should probably be screened by hospital staff.
“At first, it looked like the idea was to get them to a shelter,” he said. “But after a few minutes, one of the ambulance folks came over and said, ‘They all have cuts and bangs on their legs.’”
So the decision was made, he said, to get them all checked out.
“In a rapid deceleration situation, you can have injuries you don’t even know about,” the chief said.
Fortunately, there were enough ambulances and EMTs to handle the situation.
“We had two guys on duty in the ambulance that time of night,” he said. “We had personnel come back to the station on callback. The Byfield Fire Department sent two engines and two ambulances. Newbury sent two ambulances. Ambulance companies included Lyons, Atlantic and Trinity.”