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A towering exercise: CCFD trains in high-angle rescues

Firefighters were working to learn how to rescue someone stuck up on a water tower. Part of the year round training crews take part in.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — 3NEWS gave a Corpus Christi firefighter a GoPro camera to wear as he climbed up the water tower at the city's O.N. Stevens Water Treatment Plant in Calallen. He was taking part in a high-angle rescue training exercise. Training that could end up saving lives. 

Firefighter Erik Saxvik explained how the first part of the training had gotten up to that point. 

"It's just a lot of practice, you know we're always going to have hiccups in the beginning, but you learn from those hiccups and you move on, and you get better," Saxvik said.

It's not every day that you interview firefighters like Saxvik up on a water tower. The training scenario was that someone had climbed the tower and couldn't get down.  

Captain Eric Macleod works out of Corpus Christi Fire Station #3. His crews and those from Corpus Christi Fire Station #4 do all of the high-angle rope rescues in the city. 

"Some people go their entire career and never have to do it," Macleod said. "The situation can change, it might not be a water tower. It might be a ship at the port. We've done this a few times at the port, or could be one of the windmills out here or a high-rise downtown. The environment may change, but the fundamentals don't."

Those fundamentals include keeping the victim calm by talking to them and getting them down to the ground as safely and quickly as possible. Captain Macleod said that the fire department's high-angle rescue equipment is better than what he used in the army. 

"Actually in the army, we didn't have as near as much safety equipment," Macleod said. "The army seems to think it's ok just to use nylon rope or nylon rope's with hardly any hardware, so this is a whole lot more safe then when I was a kid doing this." 

Macleod and the other trainers said the exercise went well. They also said when someone needs to be rescued from a high-rise building or even a water tower, the rescue crews will be ready to respond and will get the job done. 

   

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