High-Rise Rescue Highlights Work of Specialized Team | News
LAS VEGAS - Four men are safe after their rig became stuck on the 35th floor outside the Vdara Hotel Wednesday. The workers were rescued by 10 firefighters who undergo specialized training to handle such nerve-racking situations.
The firefighters say the stranded men weren't scared, are used to heights, and remained calm throughout the rescue. They even made small talk as they made their way down more than 30 floors.
"I know his name, how many kids he's got," said firefighter/paramedic Scott Freel.
That's not the calmness you would imagine from someone hanging over the side of a building the size of Vdara. For the firefighters, it's part of the job.
"You're not hearing noises or anything. "You're thinking about the task at hand, what you got to do, how you're going to be safe," Freel said. "When you go over the edge, yeah, you look down. It's high, and that's what we're there for. That's what we train for. We were all excited."
As scary as the situation seemed, firefighters say the workers were never in any danger. Firefighter/paramedic Ray Spiger was the first person to reach the workers. After scanning the rig, he realized it was safe. The emergency brake stopped any problems. The rescue workers' training took over.
"When we're not hanging off buildings, we're researching - studying different books and techniques," he said.
The heavy rescue team took a little more than three hours to rescue all the workers, taking each step methodically.
The rescue workers secured themselves with anchors inside Vdara's stairwells. They used 700 feet of rope to lower themselves down to the workers, and a rescue harness that easily slips around anyone who is stranded.
Laughing and joking with each other, they say, no situation is too large for them to handle.
"This rescue is a team rescue. It doesn't happen without all of the individuals in those positions making it happen," said team leader Capt. John Hurley.
When asked how they deal with high-pressure situations such as Wednesday's rescue, the rescue team members say extensive training prepares them for any scenario.
More importantly, they say there is a trust in one another when involved in such tasks and a bond they share away from the job.