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Tank Worker Rescued After Falling Ill

Friday, July 28, 2017

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A worker on a water tank maintenance job in northeast Florida was rescued Wednesday afternoon (July 26) after falling ill in what authorities have suggested was likely a heat-related incident.

Water tank rescue
Photos courtesy of City of Palm Coast

A worker was rescued from a water tank in Palm Coast, Florida, Wednesday after falling ill in an incident that may have been related to heat.

The worker, identified as Chris Young, of Georgia, was working inside the tank on a water tower in Palm Coast, Florida, when he became ill around 2 p.m., and coworkers called 911. Local news reports relate that Young became disoriented. According to city officials, the temperature was in the upper 90s (Fahrenheit) at the time of the incident.

Lengthy Rescue

A high-angle rescue team headed up by Flagler County Fire Rescue was sent to the 150-foot water tower to recover Young, who was conscious at the time of the rescue. The rescue took about 30 minutes, according to the city’s official account. The recovery was difficult due to both the height and the confined space of the tank.

Water tower

The incident took place in this 150-foot-tall water tank near I-95.

Young was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler; Palm Coast officials declined to comment Thursday (July 27) on his condition based on patient privacy concerns. Young was working for Utility Service Group, based out of Perry, Georgia, at the time of the incident. The contractor did not immediately return a request for information Thursday.

Utility Service Group, which claims on its website to be the largest tank service firm in the United States, performs a variety of services on tanks, including maintenance, cleaning, rehabilitation and coating.

Mixer Maintenance

A city official told PaintSquare Daily News the crew was performing maintenance on a mixer in the bowl of the water tower when the incident occurred. A representative of the city’s Utility Division said the equipment is necessary in the tank to prevent temperature stratification in the water being held, in part because the dark blue color of the tank absorbs heat from the sunlight.

While officials would not comment on the worker's diagnosis, a city press release alluded to the likelihood that heat played a factor in the incident, suggesting tips for avoiding heat-related illness in the summer sun.

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed Friday (July 28) that the incident is under investigation.

Editor's note: This story was edited Friday, July 28, to reflect updated information from OSHA regarding its investigation of the incident.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Tanks; Tanks and vessels; Water Tanks

Comment from Billy Russell, (7/28/2017, 4:19 AM)

This next generation , needs to get in shape working up there just aint for everyone they don't build them like us anymore , just saying

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (7/28/2017, 12:53 PM)

The value of pre work risk assessments cannot be overemphasized especially for confined space entry work. Part of the RA must include physical condition of persons entering confined spaces. If something will go wrong in a confined space it will.

Comment from Billy Russell, (7/29/2017, 9:13 PM)

They do a RA as well as closed confinement entry permit have 3 people now on each crew 1 remaining as hole watch , they do this every day , hiring these snowflakes who spend most of their time on youtube and Xbox hire on looking for the first chance to get workers comp case , its 135 in a tank in summer (Deep south) what ever maintenance manager is putting these crews together obviously did not earn the position from the field or he would have better sense than to put weak , out of shape kids in harms way because their cheaper , hire real tank people genious

Comment from M. Halliwell, (7/31/2017, 10:43 AM)

Yes there is something to be said about being fit for work (and acclimatized to working conditions)...but I'll still wish Mr. Young a speedy recovery and hope there were no contributing underlying conditions that were exacerbated by the heat. It's also a good time to remind those working and playing in the summer heat that sometimes water just isn't enough...I've had to help someone on a charity bike ride (+30C, riding hard, only drinking water) who ended up with a bad case of hyponatremia (loss of electrolytes). It was so bad it caused an altered heart rhythm and just about a trip to the hospital. Look out for yourself, but also your buddies / coworkers.

Comment from Jim Bridgeman, (8/4/2017, 11:59 PM)

Probably, any comment with "snowflake" in it should be automatically deleted. Just saying.

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