Inside Towers’ recent story (April 22) on a fire department’s rescue of a stranded tower tech who fractured his arm and was unable to climb down a monopole unassisted initially drew a letter from John Charles. John asked why these types of rescues always seem to be done by first responders and not ComTrain-trained crews. The letter elicited responses from Brock Sullivan, Project Manager of Foresite Group and Ty Fenton, General Manager of Safety One Training.
‘Near Misses” Go Unreported
From: Brock Sullivan, Foresite Group, Project Manager
I wanted to offer some comments as it relates to John Charles letter.
He is correct in noting his concerns. I think about it quite often having been a safety manager in the past. ComTrain is a very insightful and well thought out structure, but if it is not continuously used it can be lost.
ComTrain teaches a number of responses to accidents: self-rescue, manual rescue, heavy equipment, winch, controlled descent, and in some cases outside services (like the fire department.)
A “near miss” is not reported on publicly because no company wants bad publicity or have it affect their insurance. I personally know of cases using techniques taught by ComTrain being utilized, and believe there to be hundreds and more likely thousands of cases over the years where these techniques have been utilized successfully, but they do not make it onto TV.
The competent person (or Safety Person) for the company has to ensure that their climbers remain trained and if rusty or not sufficiently trained, they should be retrained. Unfortunately the number of competent people are spread thin during these periods of rollouts with TV Repack, 5G, and First Net, so if the crew was green, they may not have had a person comfortable to perform the rescue or the person best suited to do the rescue may have been the injured in this case.
Because First Responders generally take control once they are on the scene, if the 911 operator keeps the rescuer on the phone, that person will often be prohibited from responding once authorities arrive.
First responders unlike “Good Samaritan” employees are required to perform under extensive safety protocols. This translates into multiple descent lines, safety lines, and backups, which results in significant delays. If a situation is life threatening, they may be able to reduce some of the redundancies. In this case the individual appeared to either have had a non-life threatening cut or sustained a break which did not warrant an expedited rescue. It would be unfortunate for a person to suffer a catastrophic fall in a situation like this.
My personal thoughts on safety are:
- I wish that Carriers realize that pressing subs to perform under deadlines often increase the chances for accidents.
- I wish that employers could do more about training but 16 hours is all that OSHA requires and as such that is what ComTrain trains (much of that 16 hours is in a classroom).
- Safety Managers should maximize down times by practicing and reviewing rescues to prevent the accident as well as improve the response after an accident.
- A single time performing a rescue under pristine situations (which is done to prevent injuries during the training or damage to equipment), does not prepare you for a real accident.
- Experienced salty climbers who are capable of improvising a rescue under duress are spread thin.
- Employees should ask questions, evaluate their surroundings, and think about rescue techniques in unusual situations or spots, not just the situation performed in training.
April 26, 2019
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