Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
A man fell through a grate in Downtown Dallas and was trapped below a parking garage entrance until rescue crews could pull him out.
A freak accident in the garage entrance of a downtown Dallas high-rise sent a worker to the hospital Tuesday afternoon.
The worker fell 12 feet through a grate beside the driveway leading down to the underground garage beneath the 1910 Pacific building, which backs up to the 1900 block of Elm Street.
The worker was extracted by a special team that was training for just that sort of situation only hours before, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue Medical Director Dr. Paul Pepe, who was also at the Elm Street scene.
"They were training this morning for staged rescues, and here you go. Their training pays off," he said. "They did this quickly, and he was in the trauma center within a matter of minutes."
The fire department parked an aerial ladder truck beside the garage door on Elm Street and inserted the ladder into the door over the hole so rescue workers could lower themselves down with a rescue basket and bring the injured man up.
Pepe said it was a serious fall.
"It's like having a terrible car crash, like 20, 30 miles an hour," he said. "There could be disruption of internal organs, broken bones, all that, so the faster we get to them, the better."
Pepe said the man was injured and in pain but was alive and talking as he left for the hospital, thanks to the fast response from a trained rescue crew.
"I'm a citizen in this community, too, and I'm just actually privileged to have these folks here taking care like they did today," he said.
The man's name was not released. It was unclear what sort of work he was doing at the building, but remodeling is under way on space that is for lease.
It was also unclear why the grate gave way as he walked on it.
It appeared to be secure when firefighters put it back in place after the rescue, but building maintenance people covered the area with plywood for added safety.