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Edinburg Fire Chief Describes Training Used in Rescues

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EDINBURG – Edinburg fire officials said rescuers’ equipment used to save a worker is top grade.

A Garcia Grand and Trading employee was rescued Tuesday after he became stuck above a silo approximately 130 feet in the air.

Multiple agencies including Edcouch, Weslaco, and Edinburg fire departments responded. 

Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snyder said the rescue operation was a team effort. He said the departments train together during the year to make sure they are ready for such dangerous rescues.

"We have what is called the Rio Grande Valley Regional Response Association, which is a makeup of the larger cities of the Rio Grande Valley. So we equip each other with same equipment, we train together and send our people to the same training events. So that they all work together," he said.

Snyder explained expert precision was necessary in the rescue not only because of the height, but also due to guide wires connected to the silo. He said if any of those wires were hit, the entire silo could fall.

He added the tactical team was called in for the rescue operation. He said they were executing two rescue plans simultaneously.

"They are tactical rescue trained for confined space, above ground, high angle rescue and trench rescue," he said.

Tactical team members climbed 150 feet in the air to the top of the silo tower with hundreds of pounds of equipment preparing for a repel rescue. At the same time, other members used the longest ladder possible to attempt to reach the man.

"It's called a parapet ladder and you can actually pin a ladder. The ladder we had yesterday, you can pin that ladder into the front of the basket and it can either go below or it can actually go above the ladder,” Snyder explained. “It's pinned in positively into the structure of the platform, so it's rated for that… It's a rescue device that we have that is fully for that purpose.”

Snyder said the man was properly secured in a safety harness during the entire rescue. He said he and his staff were confident they would bring him down to safety.

The fire chief added completing such a rescue usually would take much longer than an hour and a half. He said he's proud of his team for getting the job done so quickly. 

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