My attention was captured today by the story of a painter on a high-rise building who was literally left hanging when his scaffolding collapsed underneath him. When I entered the scene via live video, a firefighter from Key Biscayne Fire Rescue was on his way down to the dangling man.
Hanging by a white strap, yellow buckets of paint visible on the askew scaffolding below, the man appeared calm, but I could only imagine the panic he was feeling. He couldn’t see his rescuer above him. Green shutters framing him, other firefighters watching and calling directions from balconies nearby, the man was in good hands, but he probably didn’t feel that way.
I said to him, as if he could hear me, “Hang in there buddy. Help is on the way. He’s almost there.”
As I watched the competency of the firefighter, though he moved ever so slowly, I imagined how the day had started for the dangling man. He just thought he was going to work. He put on his white painters clothes, shoved his feet in his work boots, maybe told his family goodbye, and drove to the job site. Little did he know that some hours later he’d have his feet knocked out from beneath him.
How glad was he that he followed the rules and was wearing his harness?
Soon, another firefighter appeared from above, talking to the man, putting a calming hand on him. I could almost hear what he was saying: It’s gonna be OK. We’ll get you down. We’ve done this lots of times. Trust us.
Trust. Easy to say when you’ve got 2 feet on the ground. Not so easy 7 stories up. What will work be like tomorrow? Will he get the day off to recuperate? What about when Monday comes? How much bravery will it take to step out on that scaffolding again?
Slowly, slowly, the firefighters secured him and began to lower him down, both constantly attached to him, one above, one to the side. When the cords that had bound him before became entangled with the rescue lines, the first firefighter quickly cut them away.
The 7-story descent to solid ground went off without a hitch. The stretcher was there waiting, along with a bottle of water.
He was safe. He was going to be fine.
But how uncomfortable was that rescue? How much did it hurt to hang there for more than an hour? But would he have chosen to stay there, wanting to avoid the pain and the pull of the rescue lines?
Certainly not. He wanted someone to save him.
This lone painter knew he was in trouble the minute that scaffolding failed. Who saw him? Who called for help? Other white-clothed men talked to the rescue crew after the painter was safely on the ground. Were they co-workers? Comrades in color? Did they know his distress and call 9-1-1? What would have happened had they ignored his distress?
Luckily, we won’t ever know. Someone called. Someone got help. Someone got involved.
And this man lived to go home to his family.
How many captured, enslaved, trafficked souls in need of rescuing aren’t going to have that option today?
Get involved. Make the call.
images from wptv.com (1), fox13news (2) and wpec (3)