An elderly resident at a Cape Breton nursing home has died after his head became trapped in the side rail of a hospital bed.

However, doctors told the man’s family the traumatic event was not a direct cause of his death.

Firefighters responded to the unusual 911 call around midnight Friday.

The call came from staff at a Glace Bay nursing home, saying a 90-year-old man had his forehead stuck firmly in an opening of a hospital bed side rail.

Staff tried unsuccessfully to free the man and then called the fire department.

“One of the railings had an opening in it where it seems he was wrestling around the bed and his head seemed to get lodged in there,” says Deputy Fire Chief Bernie Bennett.

“I’m sure when he put his head through there and turned a little bit, that is when he became lodged.”

The man was conscious and cooperative when emergency crews arrived on the scene.

A smaller version of the Jaws of Life was used to cut through the rail. It took roughly 20 minutes to free the man, although it is unclear how long he had been trapped before he was discovered during a regular bed check.

The man died two days later, although doctors say his death was not directly related to the incident.

The Cape Breton District Health Authority is conducting a full investigation into the matter.

“It involves our patient safety co-ordinator, our engineering services, our rehabilitation services and continuing care staff,” says spokesman Greg Boone.

“At this stage they are looking at all aspects of what happened and the operation of the bed.”

The bed was taken out of service for inspection, but hundreds of similar beds continue to be utilized in a variety of health care settings.

Part of the investigation will try to determine when, or if, a similar incident has happened before.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Randy MacDonald