An emergency was sparked after reports that a workman was trapped at the bottom of a Victorian train ventilation shaft in Sevenoaks.
Fortunately, it was a multi-agency training exercise that took place in Gracious Lane recently, involving Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), South East Coast Ambulance Service’s Hazaroudous Response Team (SECAmb HART) and civil engineering contractors BAM Nuttall Ltd.
Sevenoaks fire station crew manager, James Heath, who organised the training said: “BAM Nuttall Ltd are in the process of refurbishing the 118 metre deep ventilation shaft, so it was an ideal opportunity for us to work together to test our joint response in the unlikely event that we’re faced with this for real.”
The rescue saw crews in breathing apparatus travelling underground with an air monitoring meter – an electronic device which measures the presence of chemicals in the air, such as: oxygen, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide and has a pre-set danger threshold warning alarm, to alert crews to potential dangers.
They successfully found the injured man in a vertical shaft covered with scaffolding boards, about two metres in diameter and approximately 70m beneath the surface, unconscious but breathing.
Roger Hext from HART explained what happened next: “From the information we were given when we arrived on site, we knew that the casualty had potentially fallen and was in a wet, dirty, dark shaft. We assessed him before carefully immobilising him on a multi integrated body-splint stretcher, which is made of tough fabric and has carry handles for easy use. The teams then worked together to lift him from floor to floor up out of the ventilation shaft to safety.”
John Haywood, the Senior Agent from BAM Nuttall Ltd said: “Watching this complex rescue scenario unfold was really interesting for everyone. The sheer professionalism of our emergency services meant that the casualty received seamless treatment thanks to the excellent team work and offers reassurance and builds greater confidence.”