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Indianapolis firefighters rescue IMPD drone that got stuck on construction crane

IFD gets IMPD drone off crane

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Fire Department rescued an unruly police drone that got stuck on top of a crane this weekend.

The crew was asked to get the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department drone after it landed on the structure near the “Rise on Meridian” apartments construction site on South Meridian Street on Saturday.

The fire department posted a video and pictures of the retrieval on social media, showing a firefighter making the 130-foot climb. The rescue started around 10:15 a.m. on Saturday.

“After an errant IMPD drone perched itself on top of a construction crane while in the course of its duties overnight, IFD TacTeam 7C utilized the ask by IMPD Logistics to help retrieve it, (and took it) as an opportunity to conduct some spur of the moment high angle ropes/crane training,” IFD wrote in the post.

According to IFD, Lt. Erik Baynard, who is a certified rope access technician, served as the primary rescuer, with Private Ryan Cundiff as his backup. The team contacted the construction crew who allowed them to make the sky-high retrieval. Firefighters say the building is the future home of the ‘Rise on Meridian’ apartments and will house 269 units.  

Once the generator providing power to the crane was shut off, the two firefighters began the climb. According to IFD, the mast sat at 130 feet high with the articulating crane arm, or jib, extending about 160 feet out. Fire crews say the drone got stuck about 12 feet from the end of the jib. With winds sitting at a mild 3 miles per hour, the crane’s position was not expected to provide much concern for the climbers.  

Crews say the climbing started at around 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning. After a half hour of climbing, Baynard made the difficult transition onto the jib. At 12:23 p.m., the drone was recovered, and another hour later at 1:26 p.m., both Baynard and the drone were safely on the ground.

IFD went on to say the drone did sustain some slight injuries but nothing that can’t be fixed.

The department says the rescue was a great opportunity to do the high-angle rope training, because it can be very dangerous.

“High Angle Rope Rescue Training is inherently dangerous, highly technical, equipment intensive, and requires constant training to maintain a perishable skill,” the post said. “The reality of our teams responding to an issue involving a crane is more common than one might think. The bonus for today’s evolution was that no human victims were needing rescue, just a piece of expensive equipment that had a mind of its own.”