A man unwittingly dumped and compacted in the back of a garbage truck escaped fatal injuries Tuesday thanks to the actions of the truck's alert operator.
The ordeal began around around 10 a.m. when a garbage truck picked up a dumpster in the 3000 block of 17th Avenue S.E. The truck lifted the dumpster overhead and emptied it into the back of the truck.
Rescue officials say the driver then compacted the contents and picked up another load, emptying that into the back.
"The driver then heard something, checked his camera and saw that there was a person in the back of his truck amongst all the garbage," the Calgary Fire Department recounted in a statement.
"He immediately stopped the vehicle and went to the back to try and help."
Paramedics arrived at the scene and boarded the truck to try to free the man. The fire department also dispatched its technical rescue team for support.
The man was placed in special hard-back harness. Breathing and conscious — and still able to use some of his own power — the man was lifted out of the truck and lowered to the ground.
"An initial assessment of his condition could be characterized as having sustained moderate injuries from the compaction process," the fire department said.
Paramedics transported the man to hospital.
"Had the garbage truck been full, his injuries would have been much more serious if not fatal," District Chief Brent Neil said in a release.