December 5 2013 Latest news:
Friday, August 30, 2013
PICTURES have emerged of the dramatic rescue of a woman from the top of a church bell tower in Soham.
Rescue crews and firefighters from Cambridge were called shortly before 10pm on Wednesday to St Andrew’s Church following reports that a woman had broken her ankle and was stuck 65ft above ground in the church tower.
St Andrew’s Church curate Rev Sue Simpson said that, as she understood events, the 36-year-old woman was standing on a small platform normally used by bell ringers when she slipped and injured her ankle.
Rev Simpson said the woman was watching her daughter learning how to ring the bells with one of the churches experienced bell ringers when the incident happened.
She had to be winched down because the spiral staircase that leads up to the tower was unsuitable for the paramedics’ stretcher.
Jon Smith, crew commander at Cambridge red watch, said: “The casualty was in the bell tower in the ringing chamber, below the bell chamber, and approximately 65ft above ground level. The access is via a steep spiral stone staircase with no handrail that the female casualty, who by now had a splinted leg, was unable to negotiate.
“Crews removed one of the trap doors in the floor of the ringing chamber that the bells are hauled up through and set up a tripod with a winch and associated safety lines.
“The casualty was then securely harnessed, attached to a firefighter, and lowered through the trap door 65 feet to the base of the tower where she was handed over to ambulance crews.
“This was a relatively straight forward incident but the specialist equipment and skills of the firefighters meant the woman was rescued within 45 minutes of our arrival on scene.”
The woman was taken to hospital by ambulance and firefighters left the scene shorty after midnight.