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Injured Firefighter Says Device Let Her Down

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - An injured firefighter says she was left hanging above flames on a collapsing floor when a rescue device malfunctioned. Cynthia Schuenke says she was fighting a fire with the Community Fire Protection District on March 29, 2006 when the T-Pass HP II device, made by Grace Industries, let her down.

The T-Pass is supposed to send an alarm when a firefighter does not move for 30 seconds inside a burning building, letting other firefighters know there is trouble. But Schuenke says it malfunctioned after the floor she was crawling on partially collapsed, leaving her suspended with her legs and torso dangling in midair above flames from the basement.

Schuenke says another firefighter found her and called for help. She says the firefighter tried to pull her out of danger, but she fell through the hole and onto a live electrical wire. Somehow, Schuenke was able to pull herself out of the building through a basement window.

Schuenke says she suffered severe burns and scars and other injuries to her head, heels, feet, back, teeth and neck, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and has incurred more than $1.1 million in medical bills.

Schuenke is represented in St. Louis County Court by Michael Schaller of St. Louis.

The Mid-County Fire Protection District, Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, the City of University City and 17 individuals are named as defendants along with Grace Industries.

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