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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Fire service praises joint working at Alton Towers' incident

05/06/2015

firefighter's with ladder
Firefighters

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has praised the joint working between the emergency services and Alton Towers staff during Tuesday’s incident on The Smiler ride.

"This was an extremely complex incident due to the confined working environment and the fact that although we were below ground level we were also working at height due to how the carriage was suspended. The priority was to ensure that we did not cause any further injuries to the casualties involved and this meant that we had to carry out a very delicate operation."

Station Manager Dale Harrison

The Service was called to the incident on Tuesday afternoon to assist with the rescue operation. Five fire engines from Cheadle, Leek, Ipstones, Stafford and Sandyford along with the rescue tender and aerial ladder platform from Longton and the rope rescue team from Stafford. At the height of the incident there were 34 firefighters.

Firefighters worked closely alongside paramedics from West Midlands Ambulance Service and Alton Towers rope rescue team to safely evacuate the 16 guests from the ride. Crews worked from a platform that had been erected by Alton Towers staff.

They used hydraulic cutting equipment to release the four serious casualties from the carriage. One male was in a position to be moved onto the aerial ladder platform, whilst the other three were put in harnesses by the rope rescue team before being moved over to the platform and onto stretchers.

The remaining 12 people on the ride were also put in harnesses by the rope rescue team and moved onto the platform before being escorted to safety. 

Station Manager Dale Harrison who was in charge of the incident said: "This was an extremely complex incident due to the confined working environment and the fact that although we were below ground level we were also working at height due to how the carriage was suspended. The priority was to ensure that we did not cause any further injuries to the casualties involved and this meant that we had to carry out a very delicate operation."

Director of Prevent and Protect Dean Stevens who was also at the incident said: "We regularly train and exercise for all types of incidents with both our colleagues in the emergency services, as well as the team at Alton Towers, and these skills were fully utilised yesterday. The professionalism and the joint working between all agencies was outstanding and ensured the safe resolution of this very tragic incident."

The 16 guests were released from the ride by 6.35pm and the final crew left the incident at 8.36pm.