Rescuers' Job More Than Rappelling Down Buildings | News
LAS VEGAS -- When six people were left dangling over the edge of the Stratosphere while on a thrill ride in 2005, the Las Vegas Heavy Rescue Team was there, bringing them to safety.
They were also there when the roof of the Monte Carlo caught fire in 2008, shepherding 5,000 people out of the building.
And on Wednesday, when four window workers were left stranded in their basket outside the 35th floor of the Vdara at CityCenter, it was the rescue team who responded.
Not all of their rescues make headlines. The 10-member team responds to hundreds of calls a year, including getting trapped motorists out of wrecked cars, pulling people from flood waters and helping stranded hikers to safety.
The team covers most of southern Nevada, from Mesquite to Pahrump to the Hoover Dam.
After the team started up in 2003, its members said trust is what got them through several major rescues throughout the Las Vegas area.
"Any member of our team can do any position," team leader Capt. John Hurley said. "And every position in this system is valuable."
They train to expect the unexpected. The firefighters said they never had a moment's hesitation rappelling down the side of the Vdara to reach the trapped workers.
After reaching the workers, they harnessed them and guided them one-by-one down the side.
"It was fun, exhilarating," rescue team member Ray Spigner said. "It's one of the (most fun) things we do on the job."
Firefighter-paramedic Scott Feel rescued the second worker of the side of the Vdara.
"When we get up there … we're a well-oiled machine," he said. "We get our anchors set up, all our equipment is dialed in, we check it, we're on top of all our safety stuff."