Technical rescue team trains on bridge

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Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services technical rescue team members Capt. Wayne Benner left, and Jordan Caldwell, prepare to lower a rescue basket from Bridge 21 in Port Colborne during a training exercise Thursday.

Nearly 12 metres above the deck of the Clarence Street Bridge, members of Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services technical rescue team were tying off a series of ropes to the structure.
Ropes and harnesses were also being tied off on a rescue basket, getting it ready to be lowered down to the west side of the closed off bridge.
The rescue basket was empty though as members of the team were conducting a training exercise with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
“What we’re doing today is a rescue exercise … simulating if an employee was injured during lubing operations on the west tower,” said Ian Roberts, a civil maintenance coordinator with the seaway.
Roberts, also a Port Colborne volunteer firefighter, said Bridge 21 is a rope technician’s paradise, with many structures to tie off on, lower rescue baskets from, and rappel down from.
He said it was the first time the fire service has worked on the bridge.
“We wanted to give them some time on the bridge to become familiar with it because of the frequency of work we perform,” said Roberts.
Fire Chief Tom Cartwright said the fire services has worked in and around the bridges in Port Colborne.
“But we’ve never done anything of this nature … we wanted to see if we were able to conduct rescue operations in the event a (Seaway) worker was injured on the bridge,” said Cartwright.
The chief said it’s a good idea to have good working knowledge of the bridge and bridge structure.
Both he and Roberts suggested more training could take place in the future on the bridge.