Window washers count their blessing after dramatic rescue

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Two window washers are counting their blessings after a dramatic rescue on Friday. 

The duo were dangling 40 stories off the ground after a cable snapped. They had to be rescued by the New Orleans Fire Department which trains for such hair-raising calls.

"We was on the 49th floor when the cable just popped," said window washer," Jorge Gomez.

Dangling over the street, veteran window washers Jorge Gomez and Willie Everidge had no idea how to get down. For about 9 minutes, they and the spectators below, hoped another cable wouldn't snap.

"I was trying to figure out how to get down. Could I climb down?" said Everidge.

"It came out as person trapped, but it also came out as someone dangling on the side of a building," said NOFD Capt. Marco Iverson.

The fire department's Squad 2 got the call on Elysian Fields Avenue, turned their truck around and headed to the scene. Capt. Iverson was on the ground.

"Right when we got to the building, we could actually look up and see the scaffolding hanging on one side, or the rig hanging on one side and then another gentleman on one line holding on to the building by himself," said Iverson who is also familiar with the layout of the building which he regularly inspects.

The NOFD says it has two heavy rescue units which train specifically for rescues like this one at the Place St. Charles building in the Central Business District.

"Place St. Charles and One Shell Square are the two tallest buildings in the City. You need a little over 600 feet of rope to go from the very top of the roof to the ground floor," said NOFD Capt. John Delao.

Fire officials say on every shift 16 people are specially trained as part of the heavy rescue unit. They're ready to jump into action, bringing along the right equipment like a pry tool which helped bust out a window in about two minutes to reach a window washer on Friday.

Pulled to safety by quick thinking glass contractors and fire fighters, two veteran window washers are grateful to be home in one piece.

"When God gave me the strength to hold onto [the building] and I see the glass started breaking. I said, 'Thank you, Jesus. I'm safe,'" said Gomez.

NOFD says six units and 20 firefighters responded to the rescue call. Fire officials says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be investigating why the cable snapped and that fines could follow.

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