Longview firefighters endure intense tower rescue training - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Longview firefighters endure intense tower rescue training

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It is perhaps the most dangerous training that firefighters go through; not fire or ladder training, but tower rescue.

Tower rescue drills by Longview firefighters test not only their abilities, but their nerve as well.

Off Longview's East Loop, firefighters had to weave their way 200 feet up a cell tower, to a mock victim. 

"Even for us, it's a little unnerving. We deal with heights regularly; we just have to put it behind us and focus on our patient care. How are we going to get to them, how are we going to treat them and how are we going to get them down?" says Longview firefighter lieutenant Travis Pickle.

"Today is to practice the skills necessary to effectively remove a person from a tower such as this," says Longview Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary.

This training is strenuous and is as dangerous for firefighters as anything they would do for real.

"Fatigue plays a great factor, and we're setting ourselves up as a victim," Pickle says.

And when you're tired, you make mistakes.

"One mistake and you can become a victim very quickly. There's no room for error and there are no safety nets," Zackary says.

Speed and accuracy are essential to getting to the victim, and then securing him to a gurney.

"Time is not in our favor, as usual,"  Zackary says.

"What is the quickest way to get them down? We're very meticulous, checking each other out with safety connections. You think you're checking too much, then you check again," Pickle says.

Wind plays a factor; every rope and connection has to be perfect.

"It's important that each firefighter knows exactly what they're doing ... know their equipment," says Zackary.

Longview firefighters train annually on the tower rescue techniques.

An 80-hour class is required to certify firefighters in tower rescue.

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