Accidents can happen on any job. When you’re high up a tower, even a minor accident or illness can be serious. Good planning and preparation are key to handling any unexpected accidents and emergencies that may arise. In addition to basic “up tower” and “on the ground” first aid, you will need to establish and practice a plan for removing an unconscious or injured tower climber.
The best tower rescue is self-rescue. If a climber is ill or injured but can get down the tower, assist him or her in getting down. If that isn’t possible, quickly get the rigging together to lower the injured person to the ground. Call 911, but don’t wait for them or expect them to remove your co-worker from the tower—you’ll have to do it.
There are many descending devices and methods available. Setting a pulley and line and letting your ground crew lower you and the injured person is one straightforward method, but it requires a line twice the height involved. Using a single fixed line and a descending device (such as a Fisk descender), you can rappel down the tower with the injured person suspended by the D-ring on the back of his or her harness.
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may not have a lot of time to get the injured person down. Don’t let your haste lead to two injured people. Apply standard safety precautions, staying tied in 100% of the time, and use a backup system if possible.