After long, hot day on top of a more than 750-foot communications tower in Burlington, Texas on Wednesday, Mike Howard was sick and couldn't get down. He found a platform at the 760 feet level where he went in and out of consciousness while rescuers devised a plan and came after him. But it was a rescue operation that took more than six hours.(In December, I ran a video from a helmet-cam from a guy working at the top of a more than 1700 foot tower asking the question who rescues this guy when he was in trouble. As if I didn't know.)
A risky and dangerous rescued played out hundreds of feet off the ground Wednesday night. A worker passed out on a cell tower and it took some very brave Burleson firefighters to get him down.
The man was working on a tower on Country Road 919 near Farm to Market Road 1902 at about 8 p.m. when he got sick. His partner called for help.
The fire department’s technical rescue team was asked to help bring him down from a 6 foot by 3 foot platform that was about 750 feet off the ground.
Firefighter Dallas Fowler reached him first.
"I was cramping," he said. "I had to stop, but I had to keep pushing on through."
Two more firefighters joined him at the top. Their arms, hands and legs burned in pain while the wind blew their ropes sideways. Since they couldn't get to the stricken worker out onto the platform, they tossed him a bag of saline intended for an IV, which he drank.
They started their climb at about 8 p.m. and the rescue lasted nearly seven hours.
A crew of about 20 people conceived a plan to tie a rope to a harness and then use a pulley to lower him down through the middle of the tower — which began just after 1 a.m. Thursday.
Crews climbed the tower and found that Howard, while still lying on the platform, had removed his safety gear because he felt claustrophobic. Complicating the issue further was Howard's stature he was said to be at least 6 feet 5 inches tall.
By 2:30 a.m., they had successfully brought Howard back down to the ground. He was transported to Huguley Memorial Hospital in Burleson and is in stable condition.