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[CQ-Contest] The scariest day of my life

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] The scariest day of my life
From: kr2q@optonline.net
Date: Sun, 08 Oct 2006 15:35:20 +0000 (GMT)
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
This year I am completely redoing all of my antennas; that includes re-cabling 
crank-up towers.

I have re-cabled them before (while in the vertical position) without issue.  
I have always used crank-ups – well, at least since 1967; prior to that I used 
Rohn #6.

I always use lots of safety precautions: I always lower the tower almost all 
the way and 
then I use steel angle iron and/or a 2x4 at the base of the crank-up 
(telescoping section).  
I double check the cables to confirm that they are slack, meaning that the 
section is being
supported by the blocking mechanism I installed.  I always have a spotter, just 
in case.  
And, I remove my wedding ring before putting on my workman’s gloves.  

Yesterday, I was working on the tower nearest to the house.  My plan was to 
replace the
cabling on the inner-most section (the others having been already replaced at 
the end of 
last year).

I lowered the tower, I “blocked” the bottom of the section, I lowered it a bit 
more and
confirmed slack on all the cables.  I had already removed my ring; it was 
sitting on the 
kitchen window sill.

A couple weeks ago at work, I had slipped on a water spill and did a split on 
the down.  
My right leg and hip still are not feeling great, so I instead of just climbing 
the tower, 
which is all zigzags at an angle, no horizontal rods to stand on, I used a 
My wife was my spotter.

First, I removed the bolt holding the bottom of the cable from the tower.  It 
was rusted, 
but came out surprisingly easily; I didn’t even use liquid wrench.  And, the 
cable was now
freely dangling.

I went up the ladder.  I noticed something weird.  A little 99 cent carabineer 
that was used
hold a pulley (for wire antennas) seemed to be in funny position.  I tried to 
move it, but it 
was frozen in place and for no obvious reason.  Gee, that’s weird, I thought.   
I reached 
to move it, but I couldn’t.  That was bizarre. So I yanked on it (don’t ask me 
why I was 
so concerned with it, I don’t know).  And then it happened.

The next thing I know, the inner section is telescoping down.  I am watching 
the zigzags 
flash by as if illuminated by a strobe light.  Then it stops.  My left hand is 
in a lot of pain.  
I yell down, “I need help,” but I have no idea what is wrong yet or what can be 
done to
resolve it.  I look around at the tower, trying to figure everything out.  I 
see my left hand 
in-between sections.  I notice that the pulley is now wedged in between 
sections and realize 
that it is holding the inner-most section “up.”  I am not sure exactly what 
happened next, 
but I think that I used my right hand to pull the inner section up enough to 
free my 
left hand.  I could never have normally done that with one hand.

Anyhow, my left hand is now free and I am leaning against the tower.  My left 
hand is in 
lots of pain.  A quick look confirms that my hand is still attached to my arm 
and it appears 
that all of my fingers are also still there.  My wife is asking what she can 
do.  I know that 
she can’t do anything to get me down, so I tell her to get lots of ice.  She 
says she will as 
soon as I get down.

I don’t know how long I was on the tower after that, but I knew that I really 
had to 
GET DOWN NOW.  So I mentally make the decision to JUST GET DOWN and to ignore 
any pain that might occur on the way down.  I “test” my left hand and I see my 
fingers move.  Good enough.  

I start the descent.  When I reach the ground, I am soaking wet with sweat (air 
temp is 
around 60F).  My face and head feel like I just got out of the shower.  The 
sweat is 
pouring off of me in streams.  Then, instantly, I find my hand covered in ice, 
strangely feels really good.

I go inside and sit for a while.  I do some inspection.  My right hand is “cut 
up” a bit, 
but not much.  My left hand has no skin abrasions at all; but the entire hand 
is already 
puffy and I have lots of pain at the base of my thumb and most of my index 
but my entire hand feels “crushed.”  I sit there and I notice that I am shaking 
all over.

The ice is working well and the pain is quickly being masked.  We rush off to 
get some 
X-rays.  Two hours later (it took 8 minutes to get there) and I am happy to 
learn that 
only one small bone (end of index finger) is broken (crushed).  My left hand is 
really big 
and I can see areas of internal hemorrhage through the skin.  My wife drives me 
and I contemplate, “How am I going to get these antennas up in time now?”

As I sit at home, looking at five (5) fully assembled antennas strew about the 
I start thinking about everything.  I get up and check the “house” tower.  I 
to “block” in the inner-most section.  I was able to “confirm” that is was okay 
work on because the cable was slack, but now it is clear that the 99 cent 
was doing all of the holding.

I am very happy that I remembered to take my wedding ring off or I’d probably 
be short 
at least one finger.  I am very lucky that my hand is still attached.  I am 
lucky that the 
pulley wedged where it did, when it did or things might be a lot worse.  I am 
very lucky 
that used a ladder (I HATE using a ladder) or I might not have feet or toes 
now.  I am l
ucky that I found the strength to lift up an entire steel section of tower with 
one hand.  
I am lucky that only one tiny bone is broken.  I am lucky to have been lucky.

Now, let’s see how much antenna work I can get today!

de Doug KR2Q

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