LARGO, Md. (AP) - Riding a 95-foot high roller coaster can be
scary enough, but on Wednesday, Prince George's County firefighters
climbed one.
It was part of a training drill at Six Flags America. About two
dozen firefighters and EMS crews simulated a rescue of a worker
with a broken leg, stranded on a rail about 75 feet above the
ground. The worker's "friend" was also nearby, refusing to leave
him on the rail alone.
The bright purple and green rails of the Joker's Jinx roller
coaster mixed with the maze of colored ropes used by two groups
from the Technical Rescue and Confined Space (TRACS) team to reach
their mock victims.
The two teams were not competing, just practicing, and will
share what they learned later in a briefing session.
The first rescuer made the slow, challenging climb carrying a
neck brace and some first aid equipment. He then radioed the second
rescuer to bring additional supplies after the victim was
The tricky part was for the two teams to then bring their
victims to the ground aboard a bright orange stretcher called a
stokes basket.
From above, the two victims riding down in separate stokes
baskets had the chance to see the sky beginning to cloud over on
the warm May day - as well as catch glimpses of the cement 75 feet
below, and hope their teammates secured all the right straps and
"Our main concern is safety. We picked this because it's a
maze," said TRACS team leader Adon Snyder. Snyder received his
department's silver medal of valor award for rescuing a Six Flags
worker from the catwalk of a ride in November.
It was his idea to use the amusement park for training.
"The techniques that we use, we use everywhere," Snyder said.
"In a different environment, we can say, 'remember when we were at
Six Flags and this worked."'
"The benefits are real. The experience is priceless," said PG
Fire/EMS spokesman Mark Brady. "This is the most physically
challenging drill they've done yet."
The TRACS team is based in Cheverly, and gets about three dozen
calls a year. They specialize in rescuing people from high angles
and confined spaces like elevators, trenches and wells.
To add to the realism, the teams had to race against a pending
storm that was expected to bring high winds and rain.
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(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)