North Collier Fire’s technical rescue team saves people in dangerous situations

Reporter: Rich Kolko Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District Administration is tasked with responding not only to fire emergencies, but to carry out complicated, often dangerous rescues.

We got to take a look at what it takes to be part of the North Collier technical rescue team Tuesday.

Rappelling into an unknown, dark, confined space might scare some people but not the technical rescue team. The 35-member group is experienced, well trained and ready.

Lt. Nick Stolts recalled a special rescue when the team needed to save a worker in a utilities chamber.

“He was down inside the hole running a gas-powered, concrete saw, displaced all the oxygen and went unconscious,” Stolts said.

The worker was breathing only two or three times a minute, so the team jumped into action to pull him out.

“By the time we got him loaded on the helicopter and flying out, halfway to the hospital he was coming to and talking to the paramedics,” Stolts said.

They now use that scenario to train others. The crew sets up critical safety equipment. They lower rescuers below the surface. Once they find a victim, that person is readied for rescue and hoisted to safety.

Mike Spicuzza an assistant team leader.

“We have high angle, like window washers, they get in trouble. We will repel from the top, go down, secure them,” Spicuzza said. “It’s a lot of rope skills, lots of knot skills, lots of known mechanical advantage.”

The team is trained and ready for action at a moment’s notice to save lives. The members of the technical rescue team have to have experience, try out when there are openings and then go through a lot of training. They can expect to be called out once a month for rescues, to assist other teams, even hurricanes.

Spicuzza says these are not normal rescues the team performs.

“The work is dangerous,” Spicuzza said. “I think every aspect of our job is dangerous. You can’t be complacent, and you have to keep training.”

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