Worker rescued from Westside tree after medical emergency

Tree trimmer who had seizure released from hospital, co-workers say

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Firefighters rushed to help a worker after a medical emergency left him dangling from a tree in the Hyde Park area of the city's Westside on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said. 

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department crews, including a technical rescue team, responded about 3 p.m. to Wonderland Court, off Firestone Road.  

Andrew Bednarik, the owner of Budget Tree Service, said one of his workers was trimming a tree when he suffered a seizure and then flipped upside down in his harness while 40 to 50 from the ground.

Bednarik said the worker had mentioned he wasn't feeling well at the beginning of their tree-trimming job. 

"So we stopped and had something to eat. Then, about 45 minutes (later), he went back up the tree and then it was about 10 minutes and he just passed out on us," Bednarik said. 

Sky 4 video above the scene showed a ladder extending into a tall tree. Firefighters said their ladders were too short, forcing them to climb the rest of the way to rescue the man. Firefighters said it took them about 20-25 minutes to get him down. 

After the man, who his boss described as being in his late 50s, was brought down on the ladder, he was put into an ambulance and taken to a hospital, JFRD said.

Kimo Bracht, a co-worker of the tree trimmer, told News4Jax that he tried to help before firefighters arrived. 

“I kept screaming his name, telling him to ride himself, 'Just pull up, pull up.' I kept throwing the rope on his hand so he could pull himself up, but he didn’t have the strength to pull up," Bracht said. "(He was saying) just, 'I’m OK. Just please get me out of the tree.' I just kept telling him that they’re on the way, they’re on the way and just tried to keep him calm."

Bracht said he's confident the worker, whom he described as his mentor, will be OK.

"He was coherent and talking to the fire department and he was talking to me the whole time before they got here," Bracht said. 

Bracht said if it weren't for the man being properly restrained in a harness, the outcome could have been much worse.

"He’s been teaching me how to stay tied in," Bracht said. "All the safety parts -- that’s what he’s been trying to teach me and I’m just so glad he did actually tie in today, perfectly, before any of this even happened.”

Bednarik said he's grateful for the quick work by the first responders. 

According to co-workers, the man was released from the hospital Tuesday evening. They hope he will be back to work soon. 

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