SCDF rescuers: It was a struggle to move man in crane

SCDF rescuers: It was a struggle to move man in crane
Dart team members who assisted in the rescue of the crane operator at Whampoa East construction site (Inset: Officer who brought operator down from crane)

SINGAPORE - They are all veterans of the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Dart).

Between them, Captain Leonard Lee, Warrant Officer 1 Andrew Tai and Sergeant Fadly Ismail have a total of 20 years' experience.

Four other colleagues participated in the rescue, too.

So it was a rather straightforward job to rescue a crane operator who was stuck atop his 40m-tall tower crane, almost 13 storeys high, and had suddenly felt unwell at a construction site in Whampoa East on Tuesday morning. The 39-year-old man was so weak, he could not make his own way down.

But when officers reached the top of the crane, they were taken aback by the small space they had to work in.

Said Capt Lee, the platoon commander: "We found the crane operator sitting on a very small and cramped platform.

"It was around 1.5m by 1.5m, and there were four other SCDF officers (who were not part of Dart) on it as well."

The crane operator was nauseous and complained of numbness in his legs, he added.

Section commander WO1 Tai said: "He kept groaning in Mandarin, 'I cannot take it already, I cannot take it already!'"

Due to his obvious discomfort, they decided to choose the most direct way down - rappelling.

They sprung into action immediately.

WO1 Tai began securing their safety lines on the boom of the crane, while Capt Lee attached the harness to the crane operator.

WO1 Tai said: "We made sure there was a clear path down without any obstacles."

Sgt Fadly, a Dart rescue specialist, was then rigged onto the safety line and lowered himself to receive the sick crane operator.

Three other officers were on the ground, while another stationed himself midway up the crane ladder.

Sgt Fadly said: "It was quite high up, but we are used to it, so it was nothing to us."

But what became a considerable challenge for the Dart rescuers was the weight of the crane operator.

Capt Lee, who estimated the crane operator weighed about 80kg, noted: "We really struggled to move him, especially on the cramped platform."

With the combined effort of the other SCDF officers on the platform, they managed to secure the crane operator's harness and move him over the railing of the platform so that Sgt Fadly could start rappelling down.

Meanwhile, Dart rescue specialist Staff Sergeant Razif, who was stationed halfway up the crane ladder, made sure the safety lines did not get tangled or swing too much, ensuring a smooth descent.

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