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Roanoke firefighters climb 240 feet in new rescue training mission

Roanoke firefighters trained at new heights on Sunday at the Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital construction site.

Suiting up by fastening on a harness, Roanoke firefighters looked up at their mission.

Step by step, 24 firefighters climbed a 240-foot tower crane to learn rescue training high above.

“Our personnel don’t usually get the opportunity to train at heights like this,” Roanoke Fire-EMS Battalion Chief Chad Riddleberger said. “These types of calls are very low frequency, but they’re very high risk.”

On Sunday morning, 110 workers were on the construction site at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. But at peak times during the week, there are about 1,000 workers.

Therefore, this training could mean saving lives like Robins and Morton Field Engineer Nick Kouskolekas.

“It makes things a lot easier so as soon as they are out there. They know exactly what to do and in case of an emergency like this if someone were injured on a tower crane,” he said. “It makes things a lot easier.”

With more infrastructure projects popping up, practicing how to lower a body at extreme heights and through a maze of construction equipment is more vital now than ever.

“We are seeing a lot more of these tower cranes, seeing a lot more road work with heavy equipment, a lot more trenches being dug out and doing below grade work,” Riddleberger said. “So, the technical rescue field is actually growing in response numbers. That’s why we need to keep our personnel safe and up to speed like we should.”

With the crane expected to be on-site for the next three years, the fire department plans to host more future trainings.

If anyone wants to check out the construction progress, an observation deck next to the Crystal Springs Water Treatment Facility is available for anyone who is interested.

Source: WSLS News 10

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