Surrey fire crews were called to a South Surrey marina for a “challenging” rescue Monday (Nov. 2), after a woman became stuck at the top of a sailboat mast.
It happened in the early evening near Nico Wynd Estates, on the Nicomekl River.
Assistant fire Chief Steve Serbic said the report came in shortly before 5 p.m., describing a woman “trapped at the top of her mast, approximately 40 feet in the air.”
The city’s two technical rescue crews were dispatched, along with firefighters from two additional halls.
Serbic said the woman, 59, had climbed the mast to fix a problem, and became stuck in her bosun’s chair at the top when her rope slipped off of a pulley, preventing her from going up or down. As firefighters couldn’t access the site with a ladder truck, nor could they climb the mast to free her – as that would have created an even more dangerous scenario – they sent a cellphone up to her and talked her through the rescue via FaceTime.
“It was a very challenging call to get this lady down, because she was definitely stuck and the mast isn’t really rated for all these people to climb up there, so they had to make a decision on how to get her down. They decided to walk her through getting herself down,” Serbic said.
“She actually did all the work up there and then they lowered her to the ground after she did what she was instructed to do.”
The process took just under two hours, he said.
Video from the scene shows the woman, in her 50s, talking to the rescue crews during the ordeal.
A woman stuck at the top of a sailboat mast in South Surrey was rescued by fire crews Monday during a three-hour ordeal that involved a dead cellphone, lights and, eventually, a warm blanket for her. @Local1271 #SurreyBC.
VIDEO/STORY: https://t.co/FO014tDPsa pic.twitter.com/J6XSGXQnH9
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) November 3, 2020
A witness said the woman was talked through tying lines and knots so that the crews could lower her down.
Serbic said the rescue was one firefighters don’t often encounter.
“I don’t think too many people have seen this type of rescue before,” he said. “Our crews train all the time. I don’t know if they’ve ever trained for this scenario, but they did a really good job. All their training came into play on that call.”
The woman was not injured, he added.
– with files from Tom Zillich