Wednesday, November 22 , 2017, 9:41 am | Fair 74º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Crews Respond to Rescue Man from 120-Foot Radio Tower Near Orcutt

Victim reportedly felt faint while climbing tower at city of Santa Maria's Los Flores Ranch Park

Emergency personnel responded Wednesday afternoon to a report of a man feeling faint atop a 120-foot radio tower south of Orcutt. Click to view larger
Emergency personnel responded Wednesday afternoon to a report of a man feeling faint atop a 120-foot radio tower south of Orcutt. (Santa Maria Fire Department photo)
A worker, right, who became stuck on a radio tower 120 feet off the ground, is assisted by Santa Barbara County firefighters. He eventually was returned safely to the ground. Click to view larger
A worker, right, who became stuck on a radio tower 120 feet off the ground, is assisted by Santa Barbara County firefighters. He eventually was returned safely to the ground. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A man feeling faint while working atop a 120-foot radio tower south of Orcutt safely returned to the ground Wednesday with the help of firefighters more than two hours later.

Santa Barbara County firefighters, aided by a county helicopter and personnel from the city of Santa Maria, were dispatched shortly after 1:30 p.m. to Los Flores Ranch Park, near the top of the Solomon Grade.

The man, whose name was not released, dangled from an arm extending from the main tower as two county firefighter paramedics and a city firefighter climbed atop the tall structure to provide aid.

The worker, one of several at the site, reportedly got stuck in the harness and then became tired while trying to get free, county Battalion Chief Scot Alderete said. 

The trio of rescuers helped the worker, some 100 feet up, don a firefighter harness system before attemping to move him toward the ground.

"It's a fairly complex (rescue,)" Alderete said. "We're dealing with 120-feet up, the person's hanging out off of the main tower so we have to get out to that individual's location, get them onto our (harness) system and we can lower them at that point."

Rescuers also had to deal with windy conditions while working atop the tower, which sits on a hill with vast views of the valley. 

"It makes it a little more uncomfortable for the rescuers that are up there," Alderete said, adding those on top of the tower likely also had to cope with wind gusts. "It's already uncomfortable being that high up. When you're dealing with strong winds, it makes it a little more uncomfortable."

Upon arrival, crews immediately shut off electrical power to the tower as a safety precaution, Alderete added.

As they made the trip back to the ground, the man could be heard saying he was ready to get down.

By 4:15 p.m., the man was standing on the ground again after slowly climbing down the tower while preceded by a county firefighter.

The man was evaluated at the scene but was not transporated to the hospital, authorities said.

There were conflicting reports on whether the man worked for the city or a contractor. 

The tower, on property owned by the city of Santa Maria, is part of the city's new 700-megahertz police radio system which sits on the northern portion of Los Flores Ranch. The ranch is a city-owned park and future site for a new city landfill.

Emergency personnel were earlier developing a plan to bring the man back to the ground using a rope system.

A helicopter remained nearby in case crews needed to use the aircraft to lift the man off the tower to complete the rescue, Alderete said.

Firefighters train for these situations on a regular basis, Alderete said.

"I would say we're constantly training with rope systems and different types of rescues," Alderete said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The city of Santa Maria’s Urban Search & Rescue vehicle was called out Wednesday afternoon to a report of a man feeling faint atop a 120-foot radio tower south of Orcutt. Click to view larger
The city of Santa Maria’s Urban Search & Rescue vehicle was called out Wednesday afternoon to a report of a man feeling faint atop a 120-foot radio tower south of Orcutt. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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