Rescue drama at North Dallas construction site

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by WALT ZWIRKO and JASON WHITELY

WFAA

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 9 at 11:05 PM

Rescue drama

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DALLAS — Members of Dallas Fire-Rescue’s Urban Search and Rescue team climbed 120-feet up the ladder of a construction crane Wednesday afternoon to rescue a worker suffering from back spasms who was unable to climb down on his own.

"These are challenging because of the height and the space to work in," said Capt. Steve Coffman, program manager for the city’s USAR team.

The rescue happened at the site of an apartment complex under construction in the 4600 block of Amesbury about 4:30 p.m. near Skillman Street and Mockingbird Lane in North Dallas.

The Urban Search and Rescue team has about 20 members who respond to calls, Capt. Coffman said, but only two of them were sent up Wednesday, carrying ropes, a backboard, and unique expertise for a technical rescue.

Firefighters got a back brace under the victim, tied ropes around it then lowered the man down the tubular ladders of the crane. The unidentified worker was able to use his own hands to help maneuver, as well.

"We were able to secure the crane operator in a lowering device where we could keep his back straight and just lowered him down through the tower," Coffman added. "Once they got the plan of how they were going to do it, I'd say they had him down in about 15 minutes."

The worker was on the ground at 5:39 p.m., where he was being evaluated before an ambulance ride to a hospital.

Calls to the contractor, JLB Builders, were not immediately returned.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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