Jerry Ewers, Fire Chief
At approximately 16:12 on November 15th, 2016 the Muscatine Joint Communications Center (MUSCOM) received a request for a high angle rescue at 8602 172nd St., located in Grandview, Iowa. This is Mid American Energy (Louisa Generating Station). Upon arrival we were told that we had a contracted employee stuck in an industrial elevator basket inside a 621’ chimney.
The contracted employee was trapped approximately 230’ up inside the chimney. Our Hazardous Incident Response Team assembled a plan and ascended up interior ladders and skywalks to set up a rigging system over the trapped employee and one fire department rescuer was lowered by ropes down to the employee in the basket. The deployment, climbing, rigging of ropes, and lowering a rescuer to the patient took three hours in extreme heat conditions and low visibility. The trapped employee and rescuer where then lowered out of the basket down 190’ to a catwalk and then used catwalks and caged ladders to descend to the ground level. This took another two hours and then another hour to retrieve the ropes and rigging systems down to ground level. This entire rescue took approximately six hours.
One minor fire fighter injury occurred during the rescue and no civilian injuries were reported. The trapped worked was dehydrated and exhausted, but uninjured.
This was an extremely dangerous and critical high angle rope rescue that was performed for the first time under these conditions at these heights outside of departmental training events.
The Muscatine Fire Department was assisted by the Grandview Fire Department, Louisa County Ambulance, and the Louisa County Sheriff Department. Approximately 11 Muscatine fire fighters responded to the high angle rescue; several off duty fire fighters responded to staff the main fire station and responded and handled several medical emergencies, out-of-town ambulance transfers, and one structure fire.