Two men lowered from Dover water tower

Rescue workers use a pulley and rope to lower a man from a water tower in Dover on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER – Two men were lowered to safety from the top of a 130-foot high water tower late Friday morning after one – a City of Dover employee – complained of chest pains during a training exercise, officials said after the two hour-plus rescue operation.

The man and a job applicant were at the tower’s top with a wastewater management crew monitoring below during a routine operation, city manager Donna S. Mitchell said. The incident took place at 391 United Way near a Wawa store at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Dover Fire Department was first called by Dover Police at 9:49 a.m. about a possible situation at the water tower, spokesman Third Assistant Chief Michael O’Connor Jr. Upon arrival he said “the height needed for the operation fare exceeded our ladder truck’s capability.”

The applicant had initially made a 911 call alerting authorities to the situation. Two DFD members with EMT certification who arrived first immediately went to the top of the tower with harnesses and rendered aid, Mr. O’Connor said.

“The (employee) was in stable condition the entire time, which afforded us the luxury of doing everything right without risking any further injury,” he said.

DFD called in a rescue operation at 10:02 a.m. and several other police, fire, medical and rescue units arrived at the scene. Two hours later, a first man was brought down in a secured harness, and a second man was lowered and was drinking from a water bottle and appeared lucid and smiling slightly as he was loaded into an ambulance.

Special Operations Teams from Kent and Sussex counties took control of the scene. Fifty or more first responders were near the base of the tower as the rescue unfolded.

“It was a very heroic response for the staff, medical professionals, the volunteers, they were exceptional,” Ms. Mitchell said.

The job applicant was checked out at the scene by medical personnel and did not require further evaluation, Ms. Mitchell said.

Ms. Mitchell said the day’s heat was a concern and a water misting station and overhead cover was provided. Ample amounts of water bottles and Gatorade were also brought to the scene.

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