Firefighters Rescue Hypothermic Worker Stuck 120 Feet Up DC Radio Tower

Firefighters have rescued a worker who got stuck 120 feet up a radio transmission tower in D.C. for about three hours after he suffered from hypothermia.

A firefighter climbed a ladder to get near the worker, but D.C.'s ladder trucks only reach about 100 feet.

The worker, who was harnessed and conscious, managed to lower himself to the firefighter, who safely transferred the man onto the ladder.

The worker climbed down the ladder and declined to be taken to a hospital. 

The worker went up the tower behind the 4th District police station on Georgia Avenue NW about 10 p.m. At about 1:15 p.m., he determined it was too cold for him to get down safely and he called for help. In order for him to get down on his own, he would have had to climb up more than 100 feet, cross a catwalk, then climb down more than 200 feet.

The temperature was in the 30s, but with windy conditions, the wind chill was in the teens.

D.C. Fire and EMS approached the rescue in several ways.

“Once we identified that he was not in a medical need to be removed from that position immediately for care, we knew that we could — this may not sound appropriate to people outside of our business — but we realized we could slow things down a little bit and operate in a safer fashion,” said firefighter Greg Whisonant.

While Whisonant climbed the ladder toward the dangling worker, rescuers also positioned themselves above the worker to see if they could rescue him from there.

A large construction crane was requested to assist in the rescue and located in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Police escorted it to the scene, but upon its arrival, the ladder rescue was already underway.

Firefighters attempted to reach the worker with a bucket truck earlier but came up short with that as well. One firefighter climbed to within about 20 feet of the worker and talked with him.

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