Performing technical rescue operations is the speciality of six Urban Search and Rescue task forces in the Los Angeles Fire Department. Today, they put those skills to work safely extricating an employee at the LA Zoo after he fell approximately 20 feet in a gorilla habitat.
At 7:35AM on January 21, 2016 the LAFD responded to a reported fall injury at 5333 W Zoo Drive. Upon their arrival, firefighters found an adult male laying at the bottom of one section of the gorilla habitat. The 61 year old man was awake and alert but sustained a leg injury, leaving him unable to assist in his rescue. Crews from Fire Station's 56 (Silver Lake) and 35 (Los Feliz), under the supervision of Battalion Chief Charles Butler, worked together with Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 27 (Hollywood) to perform a rescue operation using a 'ladder slide'.
The patient was first evaluated and secured on a backboard to protect against any possible spinal injuries. Fireifghters then placed him inside a 'litter basket' which is used to move patients during a rescue operation. (example of litter basket, picture from training exercise)
A ground ladder, tall enough to reach the top of the enclosure, was fitted with a 'haul system'. This rope system is attached to the litter basket and firefighters at the top pull the ropes which will slowly move the basket up the ladder slide. Firefighters inside the enclosure followed with the basket to provide stabilization.
After the patient was safely brought to ground level, he was transported to a local hospital in fair condition with possible broken leg.
If you would like to learn more about the many specialized units within Your LAFD, we invite you to visit here: LAFD Special Operations.
Dispatched Units: E56, RA56, E235, T35, UR27, E27, BC5, T27, E227, RA827, UR88
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