Not Your Average Citizen Assist
Rapid City, S.D. - Just before 5 pm on Wednesday, Truck 1 from Fire Station 1 was dispatched to the City/School Administration Center (CSAC) building for a citizen assist. An individual with a disability that requires use of a wheelchair was conducting business at the CSAC building on the third floor when the elevator malfunctioned. The individual was not inside of the elevator at the time the malfunction occured. After speaking with the elevator repair technician, firefighters learned that the elevator repair would be a lengthy process. Additionally, because the chair weighed over 500 pounds and because of the configuration of the stairway, there were concerns about having firefighters carry the chair down the stairs and risk injury to the firefighters. The Truck 1 crew, led by Capt. Tom Bielmaier, devised a plan to assist the individual down stairs using a stair chair and to lower the individuals wheelchair to the ground utilizing a rope and pulley system and the aerial ladder on Truck 1.
Capt. Bielmaier enlisted the help of Battalion Chief Tim Daly , Squad 1 led by Firefighter/Medic Nick Phillipe, and Fire Rescue 3 led by Capt. Calen Maningas. With the individual safely on the first floor via the stair chair and Squad 1, the Truck 1 and Rescue 3 crews constructed a rope system utilizing ropes, pulleys, and the aerial ladder. Utilizing the ladder as a crane was not an option as the weight of the chair would damage the ladder. Instead, Rescue 3 crews assembled a system that uses mechanical advantage- identical to a system that they would use in a vertical rescue scenario- and safely lowered the chair to the parking lot.
This event highlights the ingenuity and skill possessed by Rapid City Firefighters. It's also a good reminder that we never know how or when the tools, training and knowledge that our organization possesses will be put to use. This event was a great examplegood inter-departmental communication and the positive working relationship between different City of Rapid City departments.
For questions or comment related to this release, please contact Lt. Jim Bussell, Rapid City Fire Department Information Officer, at (605)-394-4180.
Above: Firefighter Brett Morton completes the harness assembly in order to safely secure the wheelchair for lowering.
Above: Firefighters on the ground use a system of ropes and pulleys to raise the 500-pound wheelchair from the roof.
Above: Firefighter/Paramedic Brett Morton guides the chair as mechanical advantage is used to raise it in the air.
Above: Firefighter Paramedic Brett Morton keeps watch as the chair is lowered to the ground. The 100-foot aerial ladder was used as a change of direction for the rope and pulley system used to lower the chair.
Above: The chair is safely lowered to the ground