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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Man flown to hospital after sewage tank rescue

A major rescue operation took place after a man was injured – halfway down a giant sewage tank.

Slurry tank rescue photo
Rescuers work to get the man out of the tank

The 28-year-old man is understood to have been injured by machinery while working at Whitehaven (Parton) Wastewater Treatment Works.

He was working on scaffolding inside the drained water treatment tank, which measures about 65ft wide and 33ft deep, when the incident happened yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

The man, who is understood to be from the Liverpool area and working for a contractor at the site, suffered a serious leg injury while working on maintenance 16ft inside the tank.

Land ambulance crews, the air ambulance, firefighters and the police all responded to the incident.

Mountain rescue crews and the coastguard had also been mobilised but were turned back.

Adrian Holme, a station manager with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said they responded to reports of an industrial accident on the site on Foundry Road, Parton.

“The guy had suffered a leg injury while working on scaffolding inside a chamber,” he explained. “He was about halfway up the tank with quite a serious leg injury, so paramedics were inside treating him.”

Mr Holme continued: “Firefighters used a specialist stretcher and working at height equipment – including a system of pulleys and lines – to carefully raise the casualty out of the chamber and onto the gantry.

“It was a challenging and complex rescue but working at height is something our firefighters are trained to do. The firefighters from Workington and Whitehaven carried out a really professional and efficient rescue.”

The man was taken by land ambulance to the Great North Air Ambulance, which had initially landed beside the railway line but then moved to Lowca Rugby Club to be closer to the scene.

Andy Dalton, a paramedic on board the Pride of Cumbria air ambulance, said: “We had reports that a man had been crushed between a piece of machinery but while we were en-route we were told by the ambulance service that the man was in a difficult location.

“Once the fire service got him out of the water treatment tank, we were able to assist him."

The casualty was flown to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary for treatment.

A spokesman for Cumbria police later confirmed that the man had suffered suspected fractures in his leg but his injuries were not life-threatening.

Mark Donaghy, a spokesman for United Utilities which owns the site, said: “A man was unfortunately hurt this morning while carrying out maintenance work at Whitehaven wastewater treatment plant.

“The emergency services were called immediately and he has been taken to hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery.

“It is believed the man was carrying out maintenance work when he suffered an injury to his leg.”

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that the incident had been reported to the authority and an investigation is now underway.

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