WILDWOOD — A 190-pound dummy dangled from the Sea Serpent roller coaster Wednesday on Morey’s Mariners Pier, suspended by a yellow chest harness and a thick cord attached to the ride, swaying slightly in the ocean breeze.

The dummy simulated a worker who was maintaining the coaster and slipped and fell over the railing, fire Chief Daniel F. Speigel said.

He just needed to be rescued.

The simulation was part of a ropes training taught by Safety and Survival Training LLC for the Cape May County Regional Urban Search Team, or RUST, a team of firefighters from departments in Wildwood, Ocean City, Cape May, Marmora, Avalon and the Coast Guard.

The team responds to emergencies throughout the county that require special technical skills to extract victims from situations such as open water, surface ice, high angles and confined spaces, as well as building collapses and machinery entrapment, Speigel said.

“We’ve responded to four to six incidents annually,” said Speigel, who is also the team leader for RUST, citing a 2016 incident in which the team freed a construction worker who was trapped in a house collapse on West Rio Grande Avenue.

Speigel added while they have never had to remove someone from the pier’s rides through a rope rescue, the possibility is there — and it’s better to be proactive.

“It’s all situations that you got to be prepared for,” he said. “If we don’t come, no one else is coming. We can’t call 911.”

While three to four firefighters stood on a landing where the “maintenance worker” slipped, Ryan Troiano, a Wildwood firefighter, climbed over the railing and was lowered down to the dummy.

Troiano hooked the dummy to himself before disconnecting the rope holding the dummy from the coaster. Then, the firefighters on the landing lowered the pair to the safety of the Boardwalk.

Capt. Matt Johnson of the city’s Fire Department, assistant team leader for RUST, called the rescue low-frequency, high-risk, meaning while calls like the day’s scenario may not happen often, they can be dangerous.

“There’s always a level of danger,” he said. “So we always train as much as we can to be proficient.”

The training also was important to build the relationship between the pier and the team, said Maggie Warner, a spokeswoman for Morey’s Piers.

“It’s really important for us to have the opportunity to be involved in training like this,” Warner said. “We want to be proactive when it comes to safety, and it’s always important for us to have a great relationship with the first responders in our community, because we’re going to be relying on them for assistance.”

Contact: 609-272-7241 MBilinski@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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