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Crews rescue 2 after scaffolding malfunction at construction site off I-35

No injuries were reported in the incident.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS helped rescue two people who were involved in a malfunctioning scaffolding incident on Thursday morning.

The call came in around 9:50 a.m., according to AFD. Both people were safely on the ground just before 1 p.m.

The construction site is located on the service road between 1200 and 1249 Interstate 35. That's near 12th Street and Waterloo Park north of the Sheraton. 

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Initially, the fire department said it hoped the two workers would be able to resolve the issue. Their next option was sending one firefighter down to the workers on the scaffolding. 

ATCEMS said rescuers were trying to resolve the issues with the workers' equipment. After "intense efforts" and consulting with an equipment expert, officials determined the equipment was not responding nor was it safe to use.

"When it was apparent that that was no longer going to be an option, we had to send rescuers over," said AFD Assistant Chief Brandon Wade. 

Rescuers then moved to a "rescue pick-off evolution," which meant another firefighter rappelled down from the 300-foot-high roof to the scaffolding. Each firefighter would take one of the workers down.  

"The guys were doing great. They had been up there for quite a while," said Fire Specialist Shane Turner, who was the first firefighter to rappel down to the scaffolding. "They had experienced a pretty good fright." 

Both Wade and Turner said the wind made things a bit more difficult. 

"Unfortunately, right as we went over the edge, the scaffolding started slamming against the building," said Turner. "So that added a bit to everybody’s nerves."

After 11 a.m., ATCEMS said rescuers with the Austin Fire Department made their way to the stranded people using ropes. Officials said they did not appear to be injured, but they were stuck and unable to get themselves to safety.

"They were definitely relieved. It wasn’t what they signed up for today. But they were good sports about it. It was a great outcome," said Turner.


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