Harrowing rescue brings man trapped 150 feet above ground to safety

‘It really went flawlessly’: Well-prepared rescue team successfully saves man stuck on crane

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue’s technical rescue team put their specialized skills on full display Tuesday when they lowered a man trapped 150 feet above the ground to safety.

The man was on a lift on a giant crane on Blount Island when an elevator on the side of the crane came down hit the lift, pinning it and trapping the man more than 12 stories up.

JFRD spokesman Eric Prosswimmer said the call came in about 11:45 a.m., and the technical rescue team was activated for the high-angle rescue.

EXTENDED VIDEO: Sky 4 captures high-angle rescue on Blount Island | PHOTO GALLERY: JFRD performs high-angle rescue on Blount Island

JFRD rescues a man who was trapped high above the ground on Blount Island. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

They set up a system and put the patient in a “half back” stabilization harness, slid him through some rails onto rope and lowered him – with a JFRD member -- down to another level. On the lower level, they transferred him to a basket dangling from an extended fire truck ladder for the rest of the trip down.

The entire rescue took over an hour.

“We’re not in a rush. We don’t want anyone else to get hurt. There’s no sense in endangering that patient more by rushing things than what it is,” Prosswimmer said. “I think they’re going to be alright. No major injuries, which we’re thankful for. It enabled us to move at our pace to slow things down and be smart and make sure everybody was safe.”

The man waved to his rescuers before he disappeared into the waiting JFRD ambulance, which took him to a local hospital to be checked out.

Prosswimmer said the firefighters who took part in the rescue were highly trained.

“It’s second nature to them, but it’s still a very technical rescue and safety is paramount to us,” he said. “It is scary, but we train hard, and that’s what we do. Your training takes over. So you’re in mode. You’re not thinking, ‘Hey, I’m dangling 130 feet in the air.’ You’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to help this person and get them to safety. This is my job. This is what I do. This is why I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours training to do these situations.’ And it really went flawlessly.”

A heart-stopping rescue near the top of a gantry crane at least 130 feet high. Jacksonville Fire Rescue safely lowered a worker to the ground at Blount Island Tuesday.

About the Authors:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.