TRENTON, N.J. – It took nearly seven hours, the demolition of a bathroom and a sturdy extension ladder for rescue workers to remove a more than 700-pound woman from her home here, officials said.
Rescue workers arrived at the woman's home about 5:45 p.m. Monday in response to reports she had fallen and injured herself in her second-floor bathroom, said Trenton Fire Department Battalion Chief Qareeb Bashir.
They didn't get her out until after midnight.
The undertaking ended up involving dozens of emergency medical responders and firefighters from Trenton and neighboring Ewing.
Firefighters eventually had to dismantle the toilet and radiator, then saw out part of the bathroom wall and window to create a large enough space to move the woman out.
As the hours went by, the woman was in surprisingly good spirits, Bashir said.
"She actually had a pleasant personality. She was laughing and cracking jokes about the situation," Bashir said.
Initially, firefighters had requested a forklift or some other piece of commercial-style equipment to lower her out. But as the hours ticked away with no forklift, they turned to muscle instead of machines to get her out, Bashir said.
After tying her into a metal-framed basket, about a dozen firefighters and emergency medical workers used ropes to lower her down along a metal extension ladder, reinforced with a wooden frame they had constructed.
After lowering her into the backyard, they lifted her into a stretcher with wheels and pushed it along a path of plywood sheets they constructed.
Rescue workers then carried her into a special oversized ambulance, Bashir said.
The woman was taken to Capital Health System's Mercer hospital in Trenton. A hospital spokesman reported her in fair condition Tuesday.
Bashir said it appeared the woman hadn't been downstairs since the autumn, although she was able to move herself to the bathroom.
A neighbor three doors down, Irene Hunter, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, said she only saw her neighbor once early last year. Hunter said the woman drove a van, parked it, and quickly walked into the house.
"It was amazing to me then how she could do that," Hunter said.
Hunter said older neighbors, such as herself, usually avoid asking about the affairs of newcomers. But after seeing her street crowded with emergency vehicles on Monday — including an ambulance that she said resembled a tank — she thought that might change.
"We, as neighbors, should have been more abreast of what goes on," Hunter said.