Cell Tower Rescue
requires a larger rescue team, longer
rope, and more equipment; it is more
complicated and slower; and solid communication is essential.
A compliant worker will already be
wearing a tower harness with sternal
and dorsal attachment areas to connect
to. What is the mechanism of injury?
Does the patient need spinal immobilization at height prior to lowering? Is
this person just stuck and needs to be
lowered to the ground using his harness? Typically, unless the subject has
a life-threatening injury that can be
resolved quickly while he is suspended,
you will be able to provide the best medical care after you have safely lowered
him to the ground.
A noncompliant, unharnessed climber
will need some sort of patient packaging
such as webbing or a rescue harness.
Take special care when dealing with
panicked or combative subjects.
Portable radios must be used for clear
communications between the rescuers
on the tower and on the ground. Many
harnesses do not have harness attachments to hold radios, so make certain
that your radio is affixed so that it cannot
This is a quick rundown of some first-in considerations for a cell tower rescue.
Hundreds of other factors can come
into play in any given tower rescue. The
importance of training with the tools and
techniques that tower climbers use cannot be overstated. If you are the authority
having jurisdiction, you must preplan
for rescues on these structures in your
• Study available information on tower
• Seek out competent tower rescue
• Take that information and practice
tower rescue techniques on unexposed locations to drive the fundamentals home.
• Once rescuers are comfortable using
the tools and techniques for tower
rescue, get out on some telecommunications towers and train on them.
NATHAN PAULSBERG is a lieutenant
with the Palatine (IL) Fire Department, a
member of its technical rescue team, and
the head of Mutual-Aid Box Alarm System
(MABAS) Division 1’s technical rescue
training committee. He is a technical rescue
instructor at the Northern Illinois Public
Safety Training Academy and Gateway
Technical College. Paulsberg is a squad
officer and head of all rope operations for
Illinois Task Force 1, co-owner of Elevated
Safety LLC, and a Society of Professional
Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) Level 3