A dangerous operation unfolded high above the Chattahoochee River on Wednesday, July 16.
A construction worker on the 13th Street Bridge became injured, and trapped in a very precarious position.
[See Related: Man rescued from 13th St. Bridge]
Traffic trying to cross the 13th Street Bridge hit an unexpected detour. The major passageway from Columbus to Phenix City was closed for hours as Fire and EMS rescue workers devised a plan to save a man who was injured and stranded above the water.
"We received a call that we had a worker who was injured on the side of the bridge. I'm not exactly sure what kind of work they were doing, they were doing some kind of work on the side of the bridge. It appears that a piece of the metal came loose, hit him, and injured him," says Bryan Watson of the Columbus Fire and EMS.
The metal was part of a network of chain link fencing suspended along the side of the bridge, meant for catching falling debris during construction. While the injury left him immobilized, the battalion chief said he was fairly certain the victim wasn't in danger of falling to the depths below.
"When we got to him, he was harnessed to a cable that we were told was an 80,000 pound cable, so we felt pretty sure that once he was there and tied off to the cable, that he wasn't coming off the scaffolding," Watson continues.
The scaffolding Watson referred to is a ladder that is fixed to the side of the bridge.
"He was able to hold on to the scaffolding. We came over the top with the high-angle rescue team, and we were able to stabilize him, get him in a stokes basket, then lower him down to the river, and then get him back up," Watson explains.
The rescued man was in obvious pain and his agony was audible throughout the rescue. He was loaded onto a stretcher on the RiverWalk and taken to the hospital by ambulance.
The battalion chief said the injured man did not fall into a critical or life threatening condition when he was struck in the back by that loose piece of metal, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
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