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Tucson tree trimmer trapped by palm fronds lucky to be alive

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A palm tree may seem like a harmless symbol of sunshine, but getting tangled up in one can be deadly.

Tucson firefighters were able to prevent that tragedy Wednesday when they rescued a tree trimmer in danger of being crushed to death by fallen branches.

Tucson Fire Department only gets a couple calls a year for palm tree rescues, and the incidents often are fatal,  Capt. Andy Skaggs said.

"When palm fronds come down on a worker, it is very rare that they live to tell about it. The fronds are extrmemely heavy and will do traumatic things to the body,' he said.

The worker in Wednesday's incident was trimming trees at a home near South Harrison Road and East 29th Street when some of the fronds "came down on top of him, pinning him so he could not move. He was in quite a bit of pain when we got there," Skaggs said.

Firefighters used a hook tool to lift off the branches a few at a time, and the man was able to walk away after being treated and released by paramedics on the scene.

"He understands how lucky he is," Skaggs said of the tree trimmer. "The biggest thing he was worried about was having to tell his wife."

TFD held refresher training for palm tree rescues late last week, Skaggs said. Wednesday's rescue was captured on video and will be used in future training.

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