Inventor Creates Skyscraper Escape Tool

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A California man has created a device intended for escaping skyscrapers. He says he was inspired by the horrifying images of people jumping out of the twin towers on 9/11. (Published Thursday, Apr 28, 2011)

    One man who never forgot the images of people jumping out of the twin towers on 9/11 has created a device that he says could be used to escape a skyscraper.

    Dr. Kevin Stone, a California orthopedic surgeon, calls his invention the "Rescue Reel." It hooks to a desk, door or outside of a building and lets the user rappel down the outside.

    The user wears a harness and controls the descent with a tool that works like a steering wheel with a hand brake.

    “No one is ever going to use this except in a panic, so you needed to figure out how to make it totally user friendly and just let go and be dropped to the ground,” says Stone.

    The Rescue Reel, which weighs around 25 pounds, uses Kevlar rope advertised to hold 5,000 pounds.

    “It’s heat-resistant, extremely lightweight and extremely strong,” he says.

    NBC New York tested the escape tool at the Nassau County Fire Academy, along with their independent instructors.

    Instructor John Lemeister used the device on a 7-story building and pronounced it "simple" and "hands free."

    The fire instructors who tested it said anyone who planned to use one would have to be trained first.

    “It would have to be viewed as a last-ditch effort when all other options have failed,” said Donald Hayde, a chief instructor at the academy.
     
    The FDNY doesn’t endorse the Rescue Reel or any product like it.  The agency is sticking with fire safety, prevention and standard escape training.

    The Rescue Reel will be sold for $2,000 and should be available later this year.