High-stakes training, high above Tampa

- Specialized firefighters from Tampa Fire Rescue spent the afternoon high above downtown as part of a high-angle training exercise.  

In the scenario, a crane operator had a stroke above the future USF College of Medicine building.  Although it was just training, crews treated it as if it were real. 

“We're going to do it just like we'd do it if it were a real 911 call that helps us prepare and react to these types of situations,” said District Chief Tony Perez.  

The training is particularly timely considering the amount of construction underway in Tampa. 

“We estimate there's 13 cranes in operation in the downtown area, it’s vitally important that we stay up to par with our training regimen,” Perez said. 

In May, their skills were put to the test for real when a crane operator in downtown had an actual emergency.  The same rescue team was called on in that case. 

Thursday’s dress rehearsal coincides with Skanska USA's safety week.  Skanksa is the firm tasked with building the 13-story complex. 

“The hazards out here change on a daily basis, whether it’s a crane rescue or some other emergency. This provides them an opportunity to be familiar with the job sites and project team,” said Brian Yarborough, Skanska project executive.

As the team worked the rescue, they had to make sure every step was precise. 

“It is a redundant safety check. Once we do one safety check, it’s another check to check that safety check. We have to make all sure of our positions are in place,” said Perez. 

After about an hour, the basket came down -- representing a life saved from high above Tampa. 

“You trust your equipment, you trust the people around you, and that’s what makes the operation successful,” Perez added.

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