Hand in Drain Pipe

A husband and his wife are attempting to snake out the basement floor drain. The husband sees some debris enter the back of the drain, he instinctively sticks his hand down there to clear the debris just as his wife turns the snake on. The snake impales the mans hand and pulls his arm into the drain causing his hand and arm to become stuck. This exact scenario has played out to a couple of friends of mine from 2 different departments, and you can see how this could easily happen again.

Picture of actual snake and pipe that a mans arm was extricated from.

I wanted to try to recreate this scenario in training, I thought it was a great scenario and it gave you multiple materials to cut. So I set out to build a fairly cheap prop to reenact this rescue scenario. I built a small box out of old wood that I had laying around, this would act as a form for the concrete that I was going to pour in it. I also used some left over PVC pipe that I had to make a section of drain that the arm would be stuck in. Once the PVC pipe was in place and capped the form was filled with a couple bags of quick dry cement.


After the cement is dry it was time to build the arm and auger. I use the foam in the glove trick from our previous post. I used a small spring epoxied on the end of a old hose to act as the snake. Once the finger was wrapped up in the snake I put it into the drain pipe and we were ready to drill.


To start the scenario we talked about medical considerations ad we also discussed non evasive solutions we could do (soapy water, etc). Then it was down to the extrication, we used a Partner saw with a diamond blade to cut the concrete and the pipe out.

hand in pipe4

Once we had all the concrete broken off the pipe we used a Dremal tool to dissect the pipe, a multitude of other cutting tools could be used for this operation but we chose to stick with the Dremal tool for this drill.

hand in pipe11
hand in pipe7

We used old hacksaw blades for hard protection from the saw blade. The Dremal worked extremely well at cutting the PVC, another tool that could possibly be used is a PVC Wire Cutter. Once the arm was free from the pipe we needed to cut the metal spring that acted as the snake, again the Dremal was used but far more accurate cuts were needed. A mix of some modified spoons and some old hacksaw blades were used to act as hard protection to protect the patient.

All in all it was a great drill to show several different types of material in one scenario.

Use your imagination and push your training to the next level, you may never go to an extrication like the one we described in this drill but it will help build a tremendous set of skills that you can use in other types of extrication calls.

25 thoughts on “Hand in Drain Pipe

  1. Good drill which I may try to re-create. Question: How do you determine which way the drain pipe runs in order to make your cut?

  2. There are a couple ways you could determine the direction the pipe is headed. You could as the victim what way his hand is facing, you could use a small snake camera if you have one at your disposal, Or you could use a piece of coat hanger or a hacksaw blade to “feel” the direction. Hope that helps and I happy training.

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