Plant works allow teams to carry out tower crane ‘rescue’
WICKLOW County Fire Service’s took part in an exercise at the Vartry Water Treatment Plant involving the staged rescue of a crane operator.
Also involved in the exercise were the Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team, BAM Ireland and a safety coordinator from Industrial Safety and Rescue Techniques (ISRT).
BAM initially contacted Wicklow County Fire Service as the construction group prepared to erect a tower crane at the Vartry Water Treatment Plant to discuss local emergency arrangements for incidents involving crane operators and others working at height.
Aidan Dempsey, Chief Fire Officer said: ‘It was agreed that the best way to ensure an effective response was to undertake an exercise based on a scenario where a crane operator needed to be rescued from the cab of the crane. As part of the exercise planning, Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Rescue were consulted and they agreed to attend the exercise as observers and to take the opportunity to discuss inter-agency co-ordination.’
On the day of the exercise, a mannequin was placed in the cab of the crane and fire crews were tasked with carrying out the rescue using standard equipment carried on their fire tenders.
The exercise was monitored by Malcolm Hunt from ISRT, which are Wicklow County Fire Services’ confined spaces and height rescue instructors, to ensure appropriate safety procedures were always in place.
Two separate techniques were used as part of the exercise. The casualty was placed in a ‘SKED’ stretcher and lowered directly to ground down the outside of the crane structure. They were then lowered in stages down the inside of the tower. Both methods were successfully completed.
The exercise proved that lowering a casualty down the outside of a crane is easier to execute, quicker and simpler and should be the method used where possible. It was also felt that cranes taller than the tower crane at Vartry Water Treatment Plant site would necessitate longer rescue ropes than those carried as standard on all Wicklow Fire Service response vehicles. Rescue from heights in a rural setting is generally a task for a mountain rescue team, while rescue from heights in an urban or industrial setting is generally a Fire Service task.
It was also found that Wicklow County Fire Service and Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Rescue have compatible procedures to be able to operate together effectively at a range of operational incidents.
When made aware of the outputs of the debrief process BAM, as part of their CSR policy, kindly offered to purchase the longer rescue ropes identified during the after-incident review process.
These ropes in specialist bags were presented to Wicklow County Fire Service at the Vartry Water Treatment Plant site last week.
Representatives of BAM handing over specialist rescue ropes to Aidan Dempsey, Chief Fire Officer at Wicklow Fire Service.
The ‘casualty’ being lowered from the outside of the crane tower.