Fire crews carry out simulated sewer rescue

PUBLISHED: 13:24 11 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:21 11 May 2016

Officers carried out a simulated rescue in a 70-metre long ventilation tunnel

Officers carried out a simulated rescue in a 70-metre long ventilation tunnel


The challenging exercise tested KFRS’s safe access equipment

Fire crews rescued two casualties who were trapped in a sewer and had become overcome by fumes in a training exercise held in Dartford today (May 11).

Officers from Thames-side and Ash-cum-Ridley climbed into a replica of a sewer system - a 70 metre long ventilation tunnel - after responding to a simulated 999 call from Leigh Academy in Green Street, Green Road.

Wearing personal protective clothing and breathing apparatus, they used special equipment to check the air for dangerous gases before entering.

A team of firefighters worked underground with limited visibility searching for the ‘injured’ pair, before making an improvised stretcher with part of a short extension ladder for one of the casualties, who had fallen as he was climbing down a ladder to assist his colleague.

The second casualty was found unconscious down the pipeline and was placed on a MIBS stretcher - a piece of equipment that can be carried from either end and lifted or lowered horizontally and vertically, making for fast evacuation in narrow passageways.

Both casualties were then carried to the bottom of the sewer shaft.

Meanwhile, firefighters above ground set up an improvised framework from short extension ladders to create an anchor point above the exit hole and established a haulage system using safe access equipment. This system enabled the team to winch both casualties out of the sewer to safety.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) crew manager Julie Taylor said: “We train to use our crews and the kit in any situation where they can make a difference and potentially save lives.

“This involves working in confined and inaccessible places, but they do pose a unique set of challenges. It can be harder for rescue teams to reach the scene when faced with areas where they can only just stand or have to crawl.

“It can also be difficult to maintain adequate communication with colleagues at ground level. The restricted space presents one of the biggest issues, especially when it involves walking at least 70 metres along narrow tunnels carrying those injured up to safety.”

The rescue took approximately two hours to compete and tested KFRS’s safe access equipment, which can be used for rescues from height, depth and areas of difficult access.

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