British Columbia·Video

Good Samaritan rescues man crushed under dumpster lid

A man is in critical condition after he was found trapped by the heavy steel lid of a large dumpster filled with unwanted donations behind a Vancouver Value Village store.

'I realized that he wasn't breathing anymore,' said Tyler Dempsey, who performed chest compressions on the man

Tyler Dempsey came to the rescue of a man stuck in a large bin filled with unwanted donations behind Value Village on Monday. Dempsey says the man wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse when he managed to free him from under the lid. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A man is in critical condition after he was rescued from a large dumpster filled with unwanted Value Village donations in Vancouver Monday morning.

The man's cries were heard by a neighbour in the area, whose actions may have saved the trapped man's life.

Tyler Dempsey, 28, was packing up his truck around 7 a.m. when he heard "muffled yelling" in the alley behind the Value Village store near Victoria Drive and 49th Avenue.

"I could hear that he was yelling for help," said Dempsey.

He followed the cries and discovered a man stuck halfway out of a bin, caught under the heavy steel lid, which Dempsey said was crushing his chest. A second man was inside the large bin — he was the one yelling for help.

Demspey managed to open the lid and cradle the pinned man down onto the pavement. He went back to the bin and freed the second man from the container, before realizing the first man wasn't breathing anymore and didn't appear to have a pulse.

Good Samaritan describes moment

With the help of a 911 operator on the phone, Dempsey, along with the other man who had been trapped, performed chest compressions for a few minutes until first responders arrived.

Firefighters took over, continuing CPR for about 10 minutes, according to Dempsey.

"I was in shock to begin with, but when I heard them say 'we've got a pretty good pulse,' I was blown away, like absolutely amazed," Dempsey said.

Dempsey describes moment victim's pulse was restored

Tyler Dempsey was packing up his truck around 8 a.m. when he heard "muffled yelling" in the alley near Victoria Drive and 49th Avenue. 1:36

Paramedics took the man to hospital in critical condition.

"The [fire] captain on scene was impressed by the individuals who were assisting," said Dan Strupe, assistant chief of operations with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services. "It was above and beyond, for sure. It was great work."

"With the assistance of the Good Samaritan, hopefully, we can have a positive outcome out of this," said Strupe.

By late Monday, the bin with the crank-operated steel lid had been replaced by a similar bin without a lid.

A Value Village spokesperson contacted CBC News on Wednesday to clarify that the bin is used to collect waste for removal.

"Items in the dumpster are items that were unable to be reused due to the fact they were soiled, wet and/or mildewed," said Sara Gaugl, director of marketing and communications at Value Village. "For reference, 95 per cent of the clothing we touch is reused or recycled and only the remaining five per cent ends up as true waste."

The City of Vancouver issued a brief statement saying city officials didn't know the specific circumstances related to this individual, but "there are people in Vancouver who rely on binning and vending for income generation."

For Dempsey, the close call is a reminder of the plight of the less fortunate people in the city who have to regularly put their lives at risk in order to survive.

"These are people who are brothers and sisters and sons and fathers and mothers; they're still people, and they deserve to live and they deserve the same rights as everybody else. They deserve the same safety as anybody else," said Dempsey.

According to Dempsey, the bin was swapped out sometime Monday after the rescue. The new bin, pictured, is the same colour and size, but doesn't have a lid. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Is there more to this story? Email rafferty.baker@cbc.ca

With Files from Bridgette Watson.

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story referred to the bin as a donation bin. In fact it was a dumpster filled with discarded donations.
    Mar 22, 2019 6:52 PM PT

About the Author

Rafferty Baker

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker

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