COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Some people who do not have a fear of heights allowed WJZ a close look at some high angle rescue training Wednesday.

Alex DeMetrick explains it’s just part of the job for Howard County’s Special Operations Team.

Dangling from ropes, you get a real feeling of how high the I-70 bridge is over the Patapsco River. It is a 150-foot drop.

“Yeah, it’s got a little pucker factor, for sure. The hardest part is once you’re on the rope, manipulating yourself over the edge and getting below the edge and getting below the lip, so you can comfortably hang on the rope,” said Chris Everett of the Howard County Special Operations Team.

Technically, it’s called high angle work, and while the practice drill may have slowed traffic for a couple of hours on I-70, the bridge was perfect for the special operations team at Howard County Fire and Rescue Services.

“We call these high-risk, low-frequency events. But they’re very well-trained in it. For them, it doesn’t matter how high this is,” said Battalion Chief Gordon Wallace.

Just this week, a similar team in Virginia rescued a woman when her truck went over the edge of a bridge. It’s the kind of rescue work that has a nickname:

“It’s closed casket stuff. If we make a mistake it could be a closed casket. We’re not going to make a mistake,” said Everett.

Drills like this are essential, because rescues like this don’t happen every day.

“So that if we have to perform a rescue we’ll be trained for it and ready to go,” said Gordon.

That includes giving team members an appreciation of what the rescue victim is going through, when survival happens at the end of a rope.

Besides rope work from high places, Howard County’s Special Operations Team also trains for rescues in collapsed buildings and cave-ins.


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