Net Foils Suicide Attempt

Net Foils Suicide Attempt

Life net in position; would-be suicide poised at eighth floor window ready to leap.

The facts concerning this particular incident are worthy of special mention because they disprove some pet theories of fire fighters that life nets cannot be satisfactorily used where the jump or fall is greater than five or six stories, and where the person falling or jumping does not land in the approved position. The incident also sets at rest the belief that only a competently trained team of professionals can operate a life net effectively under emergency conditions. In this particular case the entire operation was directed by trained fire fighters, albeit over half of the net holders were novices, pressed into service for the occasion.

On August 1, last, at 6:52 P.M. Ladder Co. 5 of the Newark, N. J., Fire Department, Captain James Nolan, commanding, and Rescue Squad 1, Captain McLaughlin in charge, responded to 308 West Kinney Street, Newark, N. J.

Upon arrival they found a man, Laurence Yuden, age 45, about to jump from an 8th story window of a 12-story apartment house. Yuden weighed approximately 160 pounds and was about 5 feet, five inches in height.

Life net crew braces for the impact.

Captain Nolan immediately ordered the company’s life net placed in position under the window ledge on which Nolan stood, and Captain McLaughlin with Firemen Peter Cummings and Clarence Reed of the Rescue Company ascended to the 9th floor to effect rescue from above.

Firemen Fred Boehringer, Charles Deutsch and Edward Dennis of Ladder 5 and Fireman Arthur Knispel of the Rescue unit manned the net, together with policemen and civilians who were pressed into service for the emergency.

Before fire fighters could reach him from above, Yuden jumped, feet first. But the impromptu crew were alert and got the net under him. Despite the drop, the victim was caught safely— neither the handlers nor the net itself were injured.

The outcome is of special significance when it is considered that a man of Yuden’s weight generates kinetic energy in the amount of 12,960 foot-pounds upon jumping from an elevation of 80 feet, or 8 stories.

This kinetic energy is the work which the falling body is capable of performing against a retarding resistance (in this case, the flexible net and the men who are holding it) before being brought to rest.

The net used in the rescue was inspected by the manufacturer after the incident and it was found no failures had resulted anywhere. It was returned to Ladder 5 where it is now in service.

This is the second life net rescue made by Captain Nolan, a member of the department for 14 years. He puts his men through life net training everv two months and attributes the excellent work in catching Yuden to this schooling.

On August 2, 1955, James T. Owens, director of the Newark Fire Department, and Fire Chief Harry J. Sommers, commended Captains Nolan and McLaughlin arid the members of Ladder 5 and Rescue 1 for the proficient manner in which they executed their assignments.

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