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BIRD'S-EYE VIEW What goes up doesn't have to come down, does it?



Published: Sun, September 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Hundreds of fairgoers might have had the chance to witness a real-life rescue.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- The people look like bugs, the buildings and tents like Monopoly houses, and the thrill rides like wind-up toys.

From the top of a 102-foot ladder truck, the world looks a lot different.

It's breezy up there, above the trees, and a little scary looking down.

Even though I was wearing a safety harness fastened to the platform at the top of the ladder, I had the urge to hold on, especially when the ladder jerked to a stop.

I boastfully volunteered to climb to the top of the ladder from the ground. Secretly I was glad when Lt. Ed Ricker, a 26-year veteran of the Austintown Fire Department, informed me that for safety reasons, photographer Lindsay Semple and I would have to board the platform at ground level and ride up.

I was especially thankful after Terry Anania, a firefighter for 20 years, told me about a firefighter trainee who froze on her way up the ladder and needed to be rescued.

That would be me.

Picture it

I'd be fine for the first dozen rungs. More stubborn than logical at times, I'd climb another dozen rungs or so. Then, I'd glance down for a split second and the terror would set in.

Only a crowbar would be able to pry my fingers from the rung in front of me.

My legs would be trembling, my teeth would be clenched.

I know this for certain because I climbed to the top of a lighthouse once.

Going up, looking at the clear blue sky through the circular stairs made of a metal mesh-like material (so the light would filter through, no doubt) I was fine.

Getting back down was another matter.

Looking at the stairs winding downward into oblivion made me dizzy, sick to my stomach, petrified.

I couldn't bounce down with eager anticipation the way I'd come up, taking some of the steps two at a time.

Oh, no.

I had to plant the seat of my crisp white pants on the top step and crawl down one inch at a time, gripping the handrails on both sides.

People coming up were out of luck.

I needed the wide side of those winding stairs for my rear and I needed to hold on with both hands. If they couldn't climb over me to let me pass, they'd have to go back down.

Patience required

The people behind me were out of luck, too.

I had to take it slowly.

It's extremely difficult to force forward fists that are wrapped around the handrails like a tourniquet around a severed limb. It's also very difficult to move feet more firmly planted than a 60-foot oak with roots that stretch all the way to China.

Lucky for me I remembered that experience.

If my memory had lapsed, who knows what could have happened. Hundreds of fairgoers might have had the chance to witness a real-life rescue.

It might have been nice for the firefighters to show off their rescue skills, but I didn't want to see myself on the 6 p.m. news.

(Ladder trucks from several area fire departments were parked on the Canfield Fair concourse bordered by all the local media tents from noon to 4 p.m. Friday.)

For something like that, TV and radio news crews might even do a live remote broadcast.

That's all I'd need.

Thanks for the ride, guys. Glad I didn't have to put you to work.

kubik@vindy.com




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