Sarasota firefighters recall worker's rescue, 200 feet up

- The call was urgent: A construction worker at the VUE condo in Sarasota held on for his life after a cable on his scaffolding snapped.   It left him with nowhere to go.

"It was a real call. This isn't training. This is a real life on the line," said Sarasota County firefighter Paul Zaller.

Zaller and members of the department’s Special Operations Team were called in to help.  When rescuers responded at the construction site, they found the worker holding on nearly 200 feet above them. They said he was exhausted and his harness was beginning to cut off circulation to his legs.

"He was nervous. He was ready to be off the edge, you could tell. I just tried to talk to him calm him down," Zaller recalled.

They sent a safety rope down for him.

"He was not clipped to any lines. As soon as we were able to get that first line on him and get that second line set up everything slows down. He is safe. He is anchored off. We do have a way to get to him," said Lt. Steven Rose.

From there the team went to work. They sent Zaller down in a harness with another to put the worker in. 
Rose explained how they worked together.

"The men who set the rigging up have to mind the lines, mind the rigging, and everything else comes to a stop. It's a sense of hyper awareness, hyper vigilance, as that's the most dangerous point during the entire operation," Rose continued.

Teamwork is of the utmost importance.

"It's a group of guys up on the top that ensured there were safety lines, backup lines, anchors; everything was going smoothly," said Zaller.

The rescue took about an hour from the first initial call to when they pulled Zaller and the worker to safety.
After he was checked out by paramedics, the worker returned home to his family.

KAST Construction told FOX 13 a motor failure on one of the two motors on the worker's scaffolding failed causing one side of the platform to lower. The cause of the failure is under investigation and undetermined at this time.

"They appreciate the prompt response and tremendous job the Sarasota Emergency Operations team did," the company offered.

"It felt good to know the call went as smoothly as it did and we were all kind of patting each other on the back. It felt good to get him up," Zaller added.

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