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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Freeing man one of toughest jobs Cumbrian firefighter has had in 20 years

Freeing a man trapped for 90 minutes after a crash was one of the toughest jobs a firefighter has encountered in 20 years.

Craig Drinkald photo
Craig Drinkald

The collision happened on the A69 between Naworth Castle and Low Row, near Brampton, and involved two vans.

One of the vehicles subsequently crashed into a tree, leaving the driver trapped by his legs.

Craig Drinkald, station manager at Carlisle West fire station, was one of those who responded to the collision, alongside Brampton firefighters.

“In my 20 years in the fire service, it was one of the most difficult extrications I’ve ever been involved with,” he said. “The driver’s side, where he was sitting, was right up against the tree – we had to remove the tree just to get to him.

“The front wheel was wrapped around his legs and he was entombed in his own footwell.”

Mr Drinkald said the force of the collision, at 5.15pm on Monday, had even pushed the steering wheel across the van, so it was effectively in front of the passenger seat.

“He was just really badly trapped,” he continued. “We used every piece of equipment we had: we removed the seat and took the whole of the roof off and still it took us an hour and a half to free him. In the end we had to drag him out of the space, which wasn’t ideal but it was all we could do.”

The 37-year-old man from the north east was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle with multiple fractures, where his condition was described as “serious but stable”.

Just 15 hours later, and Carlisle West fire crews were once again called upon to free a motorist.

A car crashed off the road in slippery conditions between Lazonby and the A6. The collision, at about 8.30am yesterday, left the female driver trapped but with minor injuries.

Mr Drinkald said again firefighters used specialist cutting equipment to free her, although this was “much more straightforward”.

He has spoken out about the two incidents to help highlight National Road Safety Week, which runs until Sunday.

“We don’t know what caused either of these collisions,” Mr Drinkald said, “but we always get called to more accidents after the clocks go back. All we want is for people to slow down a bit, pay a bit of attention and drive a bit more safely.”

Firefighters will be at Sainsbury’s, Carlisle, on Friday with various demonstrations.

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