Would You, Could You Rescue Your Fellow Climber?

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Hey, this week I want to discuss something that has been on the minds of so many tower workers out there. Would you rescue a fellow climber in trouble? In recent news there have been several stories that someone was left hanging until the fire department arrived to perform the rescue. The good news is that they all are alive today, so all’s well that ends well. Getting home alive really matters when things go wrong. You may forget what matters until you are confronted with a terrible situation.

So back to the point, would you rescue a coworker? Could you rescue a coworker in trouble? I reached out to several groups, and everyone I communicated with thinks that this should be the policy. I have to tell you, everyone I heard from, and talked too said yes. Not one person said they would wait for the rescue team unless absolutely necessary. However, the one comment I got on my blog when the guy was hanging over the edge of the platform on the monopole was that the guy went home alive and he felt the crew did the right thing. I didn’t forget that and that is why I said something in the beginning, they are all alive. That is so important so I am so happy the fire departments have high rescue, really, I thank GOD for that. They are alive. I don’t know why the coworkers didn’t make an attempt but they seemed to do the right thing. Their coworkers are alive.

I need to know, is there a policy out there that would have people not make the attempt? Most of the older tower climbers are well versed in rescue. Did that change? I even heard from a few people with the carriers, (who were not happy that I brought up the whole “carriers devalue climbing” issue) said that everyone on site should be able to do rescue.

I was on a forum of guys that do high tower work and all of them said overwhelmingly that they would attempt the rescue if they felt it was safe. Remember that you need to be prepared. Prepared? What does that mean? I will tell you, prepared in training, rope, safety, gear, and control. Control of your emotions and actions.

I have to tell you I was trained by Winton Wilcox of the old ComTrain. Regardless of what you think of ComTrain, Winton’s training and advice was invaluable to me. He went through so many scenarios of what could happen, especially if someone was irrational or not willing to let you help them. Remember that they could panic like someone drowning. I don’t know if any of you know much about being a lifeguard, but I took all of that training when I was you and they went through the same actions because people panic. People panic, people become irrational in terrible situations, people go crazy. No joke, not good, people panic. Are you prepared to deal with that? I was because Winton went through that as one of the scenarios.

Would you save someone who would rather fight you than help you rescue them? Could you be kind enough to give them a right hook to calm them down? Could you do it? Could you take the time to rig the tower with a rope for descent and a rope for safety before helping the person? Could you be the rational person on site? I know you say yes now, but if you listened to the Trauma podcast with Lane Falkner then you know it’s not so easy. Could you work on someone’s injury much less pull them from a tower? I would imagine most of you would think a lifeguard has it easy, but when you see them pull someone from the water and save someone, then what do you think? To pull someone from a tower is real work and you have to be very confident to do it. It takes practice and confidence. Practice? That is where the training comes in, practice. Pay attention! If you practice you would be more ready because then you are prepared. If you are prepared then you can adapt to the situation. If you can improvise then you can adapt to the situation. Once you know how to adapt then you can overcome the obstacles and issues and fear. Improvise, adapt and overcome is said by the marines because if you are prepared you can do it. The marines don’t say it for nothing, they say it because it becomes a way to survive and help your partner survive.

With all of that said, if you can’t do the rescue, call for help! If your company has a no rescue policy, then maybe you should wonder why you work for them.

So would you? I don’t think that is the right question! I think the right question is could you? What is the situation? What is your capability? What equipment and ropes do you have? What help do you have? Did you already call for help? You should always call for help right away! Just do it! Does anyone on the crew have enough experience to help a coworker out. Experience, now there’s something that we should think about. Many of you that read this have experience with climbing, but do you have enough experience in rescue? When is the last time you took a rescue class? When is the last time you practiced rescue? When is the last time you pulled someone off the tower? Do you think that rescue practice is a waste of time? Then get another job!

Climbing should be for people that care and have a passion for the job. If you’re in it just to kill time then maybe you should think twice about your future. There is no shame in finding something you enjoy. Unfortunately most of these young men that are in accidents seem to really like the job, which makes writing this so hard. Many of them dies doing something they love. It’s too late for them but if you happen to go to a tower where seasoned veterans are working then make a point to learn from them.

Climbing and tower work isn’t for everyone. Rescue isn’t for everyone. Thank GOD for the Fire Departments learning high rescue and rope rescue, I have some links below.

Show me you care, Facebook, wade4wireless@gmail.com or leave a comment.

Don’t forget to take the poll for jobs!

Remember that the Hubble Foundation needs your support. Show you care for the families of the fallen and the fellow climbers in need. They still have tickets to the car giveaway! Support Hubble, honor the fallen, and maybe win a Mustang!



OSHA Issues citations to company telling workers to free climb:


Old news of workers who waited for Fire department to be rescued:



Fire departments being trained for rope rescue:




Something to think about courtesy of OSHA;

OSHA deaths Tower-chart1

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  1. Chad, great points and another will thought out comment, thank you! This is something that I would like to talk about soon, repetition build habits. If the crews work on good repetition and practice good habits then when something happens they can react to it like it’s a habit, not a shock or something new. I was talking to Alan at the FCC Tower workshop and he said that he does the same thing with his crews, spending the time to have them practice on jobsites so they are ready for problems. He makes a point to go out and climb with them monthly so he understands what they are dealing with and so the crews understand that he has been there, done that, and is still doing it! I thought that was a great philosophy. If more and more crews could adopt this philosophy then more crews would be well equipped as well as well prepared for anything that may happen.


  2. Would you, could you ?
    I began the in house Tower Safety & Rescue Instructor Part of my career back in 2003 through ComTrain .
    Jim McClellan was my instructor . My second time through for re-certification Steve Wilson . But even before that I had spent roughly 14 years doing linework for CATV and Telco. .
    After reading this article and also having noticed the number of
    climber rescues that have been called over to outside rescue personell , (which seems to be increasing ) by onsite crew members who carry certification for
    rescue ..I thought I might reply .

    Yes, I would and Yes, I could
    This should be the reply or maybe I should say MUST BE the reply given by any certified climber .

    There are more than the basic reasons , which are ,the certification
    course cost’s an average of $2,000.00 – $3000.00 ,( more if you are an instructor with the accompanied competent climber cert.). And also, it would the polite thing to do .

    Here we go,
    the majority of the sense of responsibility to my fellow workers had been built through the Line Crews had I worked with over the years
    before entering into tower work . We,(they) are just as much dedicated to their craft as the majority of us ( Tower Climbers ) are.
    “your crew is your focus” so far as safety and job progress balance .
    there should be no Balance, but unfortunatley that is the way it works , every whe.

    What usually brings most of us to become a authorized rescuer is
    that the job will not be available without doing so . The possibility of ever coming into a a real life emergency recue situation
    for most of us , is not entertained because it is a scary picture.
    emergency situations on a tower verses on a telephone pole, are
    very different .The severity of injury sustained in a tower ” work accident” can be , as we all are aware range from moderate to fatal.
    Gentleman , if you want to climb, than you have no choice but to
    recognize that some day you may find yourself in involved in a
    emergency rescue situation and as you have accepted the title of” authorized rescuer”, it will not be your choice but your responsibilty to the man who is hanging in his harness and in need of your immediate help .

    So, the usual response to this statement , and others which may run parralell with it can be summed up in the reply, ” we did not receive enough practice for rescues , we only knew or know one rescue method . we felt he had a better chance with a professional rescue response team . ( YOU ARE THE PROFFESSIONAL RESCUE RESPONSE TEAM ) .

    O.K , how do we keep it in the family ?
    Learn and practice to point of being second nature the various knots or hitches and the proper applications of them .As rescue situations will vary .
    Become more than familiar with your rescue equipment, know the device’s and their advantages and dis-advantages for the given situation .be able to rig and operate your equipment safely/skillfully

    Not enough time for rescue drills

    This is definitely something to be changed ,
    I know for sure this is a huge problem . Must find a way around this
    Is N.A.T.E home maybe we could talk to him .

    Chad C.


    • Chad,
      Thank you for the well thought out response. I really appreciate the feedback.
      Do you feel that the companies should have a requirement to have employees practice rescue? Maybe they should have rescue training and practice 8 hours every month. That may help if they have a requirement to practice what they were trained.
      Thank you again!


      • Wade ,
        Nice to meet you ,
        When I started as an instructor, I was as new to tower rescue as the guys on my crew’s ( 2 ) . We were fortunate enough to work for a company that was able to give us one full day every other work week to drill . As we became more adept at responding to the drills ,we reduced the full day to half-day ( 2 half days ).
        Using the above schedule required only 3 full days over 5 weeks time . We kept the 2 half days at every other week as a permanent
        practice . It only takes a relatively short amount of time to become familiar with the more common or basic methods of rescue.And that time spent will produce a very confident crew and also individuals .
        Practiced cimbers, will work more proficiently and safely. Which feeds into meeting time lines more efficiently, longer tool and equipment life times ,a lot fewer work mistakes ( which cost equipment , materials and time ).

        Long story short, Yes, I would agree that 8 hours consecutively at first .then to half day twice month , this gives more of a sense of an
        ongoing practice . As usual this is dependant upon the size or number of particapants within the crew ( s ) .
        To be able to bring this practice by the very few to level of an Industry recommended guideline Should not be so difficult , as the present trend toward climber injuries seems to be escalating . And I don’t believe that the current mantra of 100% tie -off as the one and only cure all . The number of injured and not fallen is much higher than those who have fallen . Add a few insurance breaks for companies that participate in a program drawn up or written through
        NATE,TIA or ANSI . Just needs a small shove . Most companies ,large or small can only benefit .

        Sorry to write so late , insomnia

        Chad C.

        Liked by 1 person

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