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Special Recovery Unit Rescues Man who Fell into Mpls. Grain Bins

Updated: 08/21/2014 6:13 PM
Created: 08/21/2014 5:20 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson

A night of urban exploring for three friends led to a life-and-death rescue mission for the Minneapolis Fire Department overnight.     

Paul Fry got out to the vacant grain bins, located on Thomas Avenue North, right away after finding out someone had fallen while exploring inside the tall structures Wednesday night. He owns the structures. On Thursday he was putting up plywood to prevent further trespassing.

"I'm not sure on the condition of that individual, my feelings go out to that family," he said.  

Minneapolis Fire Department received a call around 11:30 p.m. They arrived on scene three minutes later.

"Made contact, approximately 45 minutes to an hour after arriving, patient was stable, minor injuries. Then they just went about setting up a system and actually hauling him out of this silo. He'd fallen about 50 to 60 feet down from the top of this about 150 foot silo," said Assistant Chief Chuck Brynteson.

Firefighter Sean Olson says the rescue was tricky. The department called in the Special Rescue Unit, which used a rope rescue.

"Everything I done in two's, it's just like a fire, two in, two out. So all the different positions we try to double up on just to maintain a safety factor," Olson said.

The equipment they use is very similar to what is used for rock climbing.

"We'll lower a rescuer down to the patient that way they can bring some of the basic stuff that they need to stabilize and get that patient packaged up. We switch over to a haul system and then we'll raise both," he said.

The man fell from the very top of the structure down 60 feet, and it took crews about four hours to free him. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment. Another man and woman were also in the bin but were uninjured.

Fry says people need to understand his buildings are not a jungle gym. He asks everyone to stay away.

Photo: KSTP/ Jeff Ganahl

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