Spotswood firefighter Damian Christy was this month reunited with a plumber he rescued after a trench wall collapsed last November.
Whittlesea’s Brandon Grech, who has since become a father again, said he feared for his life during the painstaking 90-minute rescue when he was buried in mud up to his neck.
Mr Christy, a former emergency trauma nurse, said space was so tight the pair had to perform a “slow and arduous” extraction.
“Myself and him, we filled up a smaller bucket with just handfuls of dirt because there wasn’t enough room for us to get a shovel or anything in,” Mr Christy said.
“We needed to do it very delicately, so we actually put handfuls of dirt into a small bucket, which I then tipped over my shoulder into a bigger bucket.
“We spoke about his kids and shared stories about my dogs. I tried to keep the mood as light as possible because if he started to panic, the rescue would have become much more difficult.
“It was an overwhelming feeling when we first got him out.
“And to see him down the track and see that he’s had a baby … it was really good to see him in good spirits about the whole thing and getting back to work, so a good outcome.
“Even though he was obviously pretty terrified at the time … he really stepped up and was really brave in that time, so he needs to be commended on how he acted.”
Mr Grech said he wanted to visit Mr Christy and the crew to thank them for saving his life.
“They are the reason why I’m still here today and I’m very thankful to them for what they did,” Mr Grech said.