How first responders used a swing to save a little boy’s life


EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) — First responders are now sharing with us how they improvised and used a rope and swing seat to pull that child to safety.

It was a happy ending made possible by heroes who have trained long and hard to save lives.

“Anything that you’re not supposed to be in, it could be a tank, it could be a well, any space that is not meant for a human to be in — we’re able to go in and get people out,” said Evansville Fire Dept. Captain Ben Pfeffer.

Thankfully, rope rescue and confined space training is not required often in a combination like this.

“Very unique. We’ve had minor situations, but I’ve been on 17 years and that’s the first full-fledged combined space rescue that I’ve made,” said Pfeffer.

The Fire Department’s rope technicians set up a Tri-Pod when they arrived.

“It gives us a high anchor point that we can run systems off of to send a rescuer or bring a victim out of the hole.”

Then, they got right to work.

“We tried every conventional rescue technique that we know. We tried putting rescuers down the hole. [..] We tried two people from the fire department who are our smallest rescuers ..We tried two officers from the police department.”

No one could fit, and options and time were starting to run out.

And then, a break:

“Towards the end we had a police officer and one of our other guys say hey what about a child’s swing?”

A child’s swing: something so simple, so ordinary, now used to save a life.

“two evansville police dept. Officers went down to one of the area parks and took a swing off a swingset and brought it down and we tied it to two ropes.”

Engine 10 Captain Chad Buttry guided the boy to straddle the swing, like a horse. And bit-by-bit, they brought the boy up.

“We went to the unconventional,” said Pfeffer. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a swing set being used.”

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(This story was originally published on July 5, 2019)

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