Every now and then, I'll "Google" Amateur Radio and hit the news tab, to see if anything interesting pops up. This time, a story came up about an 80 year old Ham from Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, who was rescued from his tower earlier this week. It would appear that he was climbing his tower to secure something in advance of one the Nor'easters to go through lately.
Two things in the article caught my eye. The mention that he is 80 years old is not one of them. I know a few 80 year olds who are still quite spry. In fact, they may be doing better than this 61 year old. No, the first thing that caught my eye was this sentence:
"William Welch, an electrician and avid amateur radio operator, got his sneaker caught atop a 20-foot-tall backyard antenna after he scaled the structure to secure it ahead of the impending nor’easter, his wife Betty told The Times."
Sneakers? Really? Now look, I'm not a tower owner or climber, but it would seem to be common sense to me that were you to climb a tower, you'd want to be wearing work boots with a steel toe and even perhaps a steel reinforced sole. To this uneducated Amateur Radio Op, sneakers don't seem to be the "de rigueur" for tower climbs.
However, this next part REALLY caught my eye:
"Firefighters moved back and forth over the ladder and put a helmet on Welch and fitted him with a harness. The harness was fastened to the tower, so Welch couldn’t fall. "
So you mean to tell me that he climbed a tower with NO hard hat or climbing harness? I sincerely hope this was just a case of bad reporting. I know I'm NOT the voice of experience or expertise ....... but seriously? No hard hat, no climbing harness, and it seems like no climbing partner, unless you count his wife who may have been watching from the ground.
We're finishing up an 8 week TECHNICIAN CLASS license course and even there, tower climbing safety is really stressed. Hard hat, climbing harness and NEVER CLIMB ALONE are stressed over and over and over!
If this is par for the course for this gentleman, than he's very lucky to have made it to 80. I hope this caused him to take pause and re-evaluate his past practice, and perhaps bone up on tower climbing safety. And while he's at it, perhaps say a prayer of thanks that things didn't turn out way worse than they did.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!