Canterbury and Deal firefighters had to rescue three casualties from the Kent Wheel ride at the University of Kent – but luckily it was all just a training exercise.
The exercise involved around fifteen firefighters and Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) specialist line rescue team based in Deal. The event at the Canterbury Campus was designed to test KFRS’ operational response to this type of incident, but to also work with University of Kent staff and the operators of the ride.
The simulated rescue began 10.40am yesterday (Tuesday 18 August 2015) and saw three fire engines arrive at the scene, the Rutherford/Eliot Lawn, where the wheel is located.
The scenario involved the crews using a turn-table ladder, which is based at Canterbury fire station, to rescue a distressed casualty from one of the 24 pods on the 33metre high Ferris wheel. Once crews had the turn-table ladder in place, they were able to reach the first casualty, who was placed in a safe access harness and safely lowered to the ground in the ladder cage.
Another casualty was injured on a gantry and was rescued by two firefighters who administered first aid and secured the casualty into a multi-integrated body-splint stretcher (MIBS) and then using the safe access equipment, they were safely lowered to the ground. These are used for rescuing injured people from confined spaces, allowing the casualty to be strapped onto the flexible stretcher and winched up or lowered to safety.
As part of the exercise the specialist rope rescue team responded to another casualty that needed rescuing from the mid section of the wheel.
KFRS Crew Manager, Trevor Cox said: "Incidents like this are very rare, but on the occasions they happen we need to be prepared and know the types of challenges and difficulties our crews will face. Training like this is an integral and on-going part of our job, it encourages crews to think on their feet, quickly weigh up a situation and act accordingly."
Aptly named Exercise ‘Ride the Wheel’ lasted for an hour and forty minutes and was made possible with the help of the events team at the University of Kent and The Vue, the owners of the Kent Wheel.
Fire Safety and Environment Adviser at the University of Kent, Andrew Briggs said: "We are pleased that, by closing the Kent Wheel for several hours today, we have been able to assist Kent Fire and Rescue Service with their training. We appreciate just how rare an opportunity this was for the Service and fully recognise the importance of such an exercise. The Kent Wheel reopened immediately after the exercise and will remain on campus until 15 October."
Crew Manager Cox added: "We are really grateful to the University of Kent and The Vue for providing an excellent training opportunity. It allowed us to experience a difficult challenge and gave us an incredibly good test as to how we would deal with a more unusual scenario."