Crew makes rescue 150 feet up

By Rochelle Brenner, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 13, 2003

PALM BEACH -- It was a routine call for paramedics to help a man suffering from chest pains -- except that he was 150 feet up in a crane next to the "middle bridge" over the Intracoastal Waterway.

The only way for the man to reach help was to climb down a 150-foot ladder, not an easy task for someone who had been having chest pains for two hours.

"The last thing we want to do is stress him out," said Jason Weeks, a Palm Beach Fire-Rescue paramedic.

So the westbound lanes of the bridge were shut down about 2 p.m. Thursday, and rescue workers found a new way to get him down -- in a small yellow cage.

After emergency medical technician Rob Locy climbed the 150-foot ladder, another crane raised the cage to the man's towering booth and he was able to step into it on his own.

The crane, with Weeks, Locy and the man inside, then swung the cage down to the bridge and the man stepped out and laid on a stretcher.

Co-workers identified the man as Scott McDonald, 36, a crane operator who fills in for the usual operator. He was in satisfactory condition at Good Samaritan Medical Center Thursday evening, according to hospital officials.

Weeks said the ride in the small yellow box with "Super Cage" written on the side "didn't feel good," but he compared the trip up to an amusement ride.

"It had a little bounce going up... kind of like an elevator drop," Weeks said.

Palm Beach Lt. James Stanfield said while such a rescue is uncommon, crews are trained to retrieve people from high places.

"Anytime you have a construction site like this, you always want to pre-plan and prepare for this," Stanfield said. "We have to figure that out once we get here -- what's the fastest way."

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