Certain workplace or construction accidents tend to rivet our attention. This is certainly the case with scaffolding accidents, especially those occurring high above the ground. For nearly two hours last Friday afternoon, viewers across the country watched what one media report called a “nail-biter of a rescue on the side of one of the tallest buildings in Yonkers,” as pedestrians watched from below and news choppers from across New York City circled above, filming the footage.
Luckily, it turned out well. Safety experts claim that they don’t yet know what caused the scaffold to collapse, leaving two workers hanging from safety harnesses outside the 13th floor of a 27-story Yonkers senior center.
John Flynn, Yonkers Fire Chief, knew that his department had to act fast, noting that the two workers “were reaching a panic point and were both getting hypothermic.” The department first extended a fire engine ladder, but it wasn’t long enough for the workers to reach.
That is when 10-year veteran fire fighter and rope rescue expert Mike Giroux went into action. Giroux descended from the building’s rooftop, secured one worker to a rope line and rappelled with him down to street level. Then he repeated the process with the second worker, as hundreds of people milling around on the streets cheered.
“It makes you feel great,” said Giroux. “It makes you say that all the training you do is worth every bit of it.”
OSHA states that it is investigating the accident.