Harrison firefighters train for high angle rescues

HARRISON, Ark. - Harrison firefighters are taking their training to new heights.

"It's very slow, methodical, and with safety in mind the entire time," said Harrison Lt. David Thompson.

This time around their mission was to rescue other firefighters playing the role as unconscious victims stuck on the side of a building.

It sounds like a scene from a movie, but Harrison firefighters have come across situations like this before.

"I think with the amount of tourism we have here, we do a lot of wilderness rescue for people falling. Even motor vehicle accidents where they run off the road and they're down a steep embankment," Thompson said.

In April, these firefighters responded to a 20-year-old college student who fell off Hawksbill Crag in Newton County.

So they use the Capt. Jim McCammon Training Tower to practice.

The tower is 40 feet tall, and the Harrison firefighters use it for everything from high-angle rescue training to physical fitness tests.

The firefighters have to work together to make sure members of their team don't also become the victims.

"You always have the fear of falling. Your rope is what your lifeline is and if it cuts, you've lost your lifeline," said Battalion Chief Robert Healea.

In the last five years, Harrison firefighters have done eight high angle rescues. Two of those were in 2019, which makes this training, and the confidence it builds, a reminder that safety always needs to be top of mind.

"Any time you're on the edge that's very high at all, you have the risk," Healea said.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.