AFD rescues worker dangling from Austonian

The Austin Fire Department rescues a maintenance worker dangling from the Austonian. It happened just before noon on Thursday when the man got stuck 500 feet in the air before crews got to the scene.

First responders brought the man to safety as firefighters made a high angle rescue from the tallest building in Austin.

The high rise rescue was a scary reminder for AFD just how fast the city is putting up skyscrapers and just how easily accidents can happen.

Just before noon, AFD got the call that a maintenance worker was dangling on his chord, on the 45th floor of the Austonian. The Austonian is 683 feet tall and has 56 floors.

“The power chord had been severed, which goes into automatic safety shutdown, and left our maintenance worker hanging about 500 feet off the ground,” Palmer Buck, Division Chief of Austin Fire Department, said.

It was a scary sight for the worker and bystanders. Some snapped photos and tweeted as the situation unfolded.

“They were able to get a safety rope attached to him, bring him over, down through the balcony and still safetied in, bring him up and over into an exterior balcony to get him inside the building,” Buck said.

It just so happens the department had a previously scheduled training for technical rescue rope rescue Thursday, the same day the rescue happened. They were supposed to practice at the Greenbelt with relation to sport climbers, but instead they practiced on a tower. It was a complete coincidence.

“This training is really important, today just kind of reiterates that,” Andy Schultz, Austin Fire Department Captain, said.

As Austin continues to grow up, skyscrapers are popping up all over downtown. AFD says they put in at least 120 hours of rope rescue training each year.

“We also have ropes that are 600 feet long, so that gets us up high,” Schultz said.

The worker at the Austonian is okay but the fire department knows it could have certainly been much worse, for the victim or one of the first responders.

“It's dangerous work but we put a lot on safety,” Schultz said.

“As Austin gets bigger and grows taller it becomes more common, it's not an uncommon call,” Buck said.


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