As members of the Wichita/Sedgwick County Technical Rescue Team, Captain Mark Baker knows his teammates can get a dangerous call at any moment. They thought Friday's call was going to be for training. They had no idea they'd deal with the real thing.
Just after 9 a.m., something went wrong at the Cereal Food Processors grain elevator near 17th and Topeka in Wichita. The Rescue Team had been scheduled to do stokes basket training. Now they were faced with doing it for real.
Everything went just fine during the real rescue, but firefighters decided to go ahead and do their scheduled training anyway. I decided to tag along with them.
After I agreed, firefighters strapped me into a stokes basket and hoisted me out the top window of the high rise training building near 31st Street S. and Oliver.
"It's a horrible feeling," I say out loud as I'm being hoisted out of a window five stories up. "I am no longer in control."
It's quite a windy day. My stomach turns a little bit each time a gust of wind blows me around. It's not the wind or the swaying that makes me feel uneasy. It's the fact that I will probably die if they drop me.
But these trained firefighters did everything perfectly. The descent down the side of the building went very smoothly. Before I knew it, I was resting on the ground.
"We try to train for different scenarios each time," says Captain Mark Baker. "Nothing is ever going to be the same during the real deal, so it should never be the same during training. We throw different things at the guys every time."
I left the WFD training facility Friday quite confident that if I ever needed to be rescued from atop a high rise building, those guys would do it perfectly.