Crane operator rescued from massive fire
Royal Canadian Air Force CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron performed dramatic rescue of a crane operator who was trapped above a massive building fire
Royal Canadian Air Force, December 18, 2013 - By Joanna Calder - A dramatic rescue unfolded yesterday afternoon in downtown Kingston, Ontario, when a crew from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, located at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, saved a crane operator who was trapped above a massive building fire.
Around 2 p.m. on December 17, a fire broke out in a student residence that was under construction on Princess Street in Kingston. The wooden structure was quickly engulfed in flames and nearby buildings, including a gas station and a senior citizens’ residence, were threatened by the massive blaze.
According to Kingston police, all the construction workers escaped safely but the operator of a crane was stranded 100 metres above the raging inferno. As the flames reached the operator’s cabin, the operator made his way across the 65-metre boom to the far end where he found precarious safety on a tiny platform measuring less than a metre square.
The Kingston fire department and police contacted the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, and a CH-146 Griffon helicopter and search and rescue crew were launched to save the man.
Fifty-five minutes later the helicopter was on site. As the helicopter hovered above the crane, Corporal Iain Cleaton carefully lowered Sergeant Cory Cisyk to the end of the boom.
After some delicate manoevering, Sergeant Cisyk gained a foothold on the small platform. He helped the crane operator to his feet and fastened a loop under arms. Corporal Cleaton then hoisted both to the helicopter.
The crew delivered the man to a waiting ambulance and he was transported to Kingston General Hospital, only a few blocks away, where he was reported to have sustained relatively minor injuries.
“For us, this was extremely unusual. But even discussing with the crew afterwards . . . we really figured that the training we do every day really came into it and played a big factor in . . . the way things ran,” Sergeant Cisyk told CBC’s Ian Hanomansing in an interview last night.
As well as Sergeant Cisyk, a search and rescue technician and the team leader, and Corporal Cleaton, flight engineer, the search and rescue crew included Captain David Agnew, aircraft commander; Captain Jean-Benoit Girard-Beauseigle, pilot and first officer; and Master Corporal Matthew Davidson, search and rescue technician.
There were concerns that the crane would collapse before the man could be rescued because the damage caused by the fire. On Wednesday, as firefighters continued to monitor the site for hot spots, there were still worries that this might happen, which could endanger nearby buildings and residences.
“We did have engineers on site last night, who are back again this morning, who are determining if it falls, how it’s going to fall,” said Kingston mayor Mark Gerretsen in a media interview.
An evacuation order in the area remained in effect Wednesday morning.
Bell CH-146 Griffon 146419 ( Canadian Armed Forces )
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