Tank Worker Rescued After Falling Ill

FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017

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.

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

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.