TED Blog exclusive video: A new method for escaping tall buildings

Posted by: Emily McManus
  • Watch video >> Kevin Stone: A new method for escaping tall buildings

    Exclusive video from TED2011: We’ve been building high-rises for a hundred years. But there’s still no good way, in an emergency, to get people out of tall buildings quickly. Kevin Stone asked: Why? At TED2011, he shares what his “Why?” led him to: the Rescue Reel. It’s an example of ingenuity driven by curiosity and passion.

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    Comments (18)

    • ArLyN Mancia commented on Sep 16 2011

      life saver!!!

      ArLyN Mancia

    • ArLyN Mancia commented on Sep 16 2011

      i strongly recommend it to those people living in tall buildings.

      ArLyn Mancia

    • Zigmund Fotografas commented on Sep 16 2011


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    • Shailesh Tripathi commented on Sep 13 2011

      I found some info on but still i need some reference. If ant suggestion then reply below.

    • Courtney Schumacher commented on Sep 11 2011

      But if the building is on fire, the rope/wire/cable may burn and break.

      • Kevin Stone commented on Sep 11 2011

        The line is heat resistant Kevlar. At a drop rate of 2 seconds per story the safety margin is reasonably high.

      • commented on Sep 15 2011

        It’s stated in the video that, the cable is fire-proof.

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    • Henry Van Der Kolk commented on Sep 11 2011

      Great idea had the same thought after I witnessed the 911 event. The difference is someone has done something about it.
      The tower climbing is a different kettle of fish. A static line with a one person helium balloon might be the go? No climbing and always tethered. Fast up and down as fast as you want.

    • brigitte santella commented on Sep 10 2011

      This is fantastic!
      When I still lived in CA, where some significant earth quakes occur, I thought up all kinds of ways to escape a burning building with damaged stairways. Rappelling down, not so good, need partner. Ship ladder, so so. Thick rope with knots…
      And I only lived on the third floor!!!
      It is quite insane that no one has ever made an effort to come up with an idea like yours.

    • Stephanie Irving commented on Sep 10 2011

      You saw a need. You set a goal. You did it. May the cities of the world be safer because of you. Thank you Kevin!

    • Benedikt Heinen commented on Sep 10 2011

      Question – how do you get OUT of the building in the first place?

      Picturing you’re in the WTC on that fateful day – some will have been ‘lucky’ enough that windows on their floor might have been shattered.

      Some would not. Sure, it’s easy enough to break a window so you can reel yourself to safety – but how will you ensure that no part of the glass front of the building comes down on people using the rescue reel from a floor below yours? Those hanging off the side of the building will probably not be safe enough to cope with glass raining down on them.

      Sure, if _any_ people above the plane crash floors would have survived with this, it would have been good; but somehow I feel fire safety procedures need to have an answer to this question, when the rescuereel gets deployed in glass-clad highrises.

    • commented on Sep 10 2011

      Definitely a problem that need solving and the invention sounds great but still think people would be rather scared leaving a building that way, plus the video does not properly explain how these are attached? If you can only get down via leaving from the main roof, surely that defeats the point (if you have to climb to get there?). Definitely think that user-friendliness of this device is the most important aspect.

    • Charles Hancock commented on Sep 10 2011

      In the video of the 1700Ft Cell Tower, he also mentions if there is a Lightning Storm, there is no quick way down. For that alone, they should be aware of this great invention! THANK YOU!!

    • Kevin Stone commented on Sep 10 2011

      Cindy Dumont, The information on ordering is on

    • Charles Hancock commented on Sep 10 2011 Here is a video of a Cell Tower Repair Man Climbing 1700Ft. I have nothing but RESPECT for the people who climb these Cell/Wind Towers! I was going to do the 200Ft – 500Ft Wind Towers. Get paid great money to work out all day, YES! I heard it was OSHA approved. But the more I looked into it, the more I felt the need to go into Design. No one should Ever be untethered, this is a design flaw! Vertical Axis Wind Turbines eliminate the need to climb to the top for repairs. The Nacelle is located at the base like in this pic…. Hook up ‎& unhook for every rung, again design flaw. In proportion to the money being spent on the overall structure, the amount needed for safety is minuscule. There is should never be a Corporate Dollar Value on Human Life. No Corporation should ever be allowed to have acceptable loss in relation to Human Life. Furthermore, these unsafe structures should have never been built nor approved by any Branch of the US Government for Building or Safety. After all the work your Team has done in a related field, it probably wouldn’t take them long to fix this tether problem :) If we strive for Ideal solutions, eventually that is what we will achieve. If we strive for less, that is what we will always achieve.