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Student injured when arm gets caught in gym divider

March 19, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - A student at Jefferson High School was injured Friday morning when his left arm became entangled in a roll-up gymnasium divider, leaving him hanging several feet off the floor, according to emergency and school officials.

The boy, whom school officials would not identify, was freed after officials from three volunteer fire departments arrived.

Ed Smith, chief at Independent Volunteer Fire Co., said that initially medics believed the boy might have needed to be airlifted to a hospital for treatment. After checking his pulse and ensuring that he could move his hand, however, they took him by ambulance to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va.

His condition could not be obtained.

The boy's father was contacted and met his son at the hospital, Jefferson High School Assistant Principal Paul Hercules said.

Hercules would not give the boy's age or grade, and Smith said he was too concerned with freeing the boy to obtain that information.

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An emergency dispatcher said the boy is 16 years old.

The incident happened about 10:50 a.m. in the gymnasium, where students were playing indoor tennis. A curtain that divides the gymnasium in half at the halfcourt line had been lowered.

When the curtain, which operates mechanically, started to rise, the boy was leaning against it. His left arm then became pinched and stuck, leaving him dangling 6 to 7 feet off the floor, Smith said.

A teacher advised Hercules what had happened, prompting emergency officials to be notified.

A school nurse and maintenance personnel responded to the gym, and the students who had been in the fourth-period class were taken to the school's cafeteria, Hercules said.

School officials debated trying to free the boy on their own, but decided instead to wait for firefighters and EMS crews to arrive, Hercules said.

Lt. Dan Fritsch of Citizens Volunteer Fire Department said that six to eight fire officials worked to free the boy. They had to lift him up, lift the curtain up and then roll it down manually, he said.

The boy was stuck for around 25 minutes altogether.

"He was definitely concerned because he was in a bad situation," Fritsch said.

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