SARASOTA – The Sarasota County Fire Department rescued a construction worker Sunday off the 17th floor of the Vue Condo construction site in downtown Sarasota.

Daring rescues like these don’t happen often in Sarasota, but when they do, the fire department is always prepared.

“We have a number of special operations employees within the fire department that train on these types of incidents all the time,” Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier said, “so even though they’re not utilized very often, they’re ready to go in case there’s an emergency that comes up.”

It is an extensive training process.

“They’ll practice knots, do rope rescues and so forth, and other special operations-type scenarios,” Regnier said.

He explained their typical procedure for these kinds of rescues.

“Once we receive a call like that, our first arriving units will do a quick survey to find out exactly what’s going on with the incident,” Regnier said. “If it does become some kind of high-angle technical rescue, they will call for additional resources.”

Calling special operations personnel is not always a quick process. The members are distributed across the county to make sure all areas are covered in the case of a situation like Sunday’s.

“The reason this gentleman stayed up there for as long as he did was we had him in a harness and he was safe,” Regnier said. “Once we have the person safe, we want to make sure we do everything safely even more so, and take our time and get the incident taken care of that way.”

He says they frequently are practicing situations like this one.

“We use the buildings here in Sarasota, we use water treatment towers and so forth, where the personnel are rappelling off using ropes and things like that, and practicing as much as possible so that they are ready any time an incident like this occurs,” Regnier said.