Indy Firefighters Save Teen Trapped in Elevator Shaft

Firefighters use cribbing to hold open an elevator to access a victim trappedin the shaft.


By Rita Reith

Indianapolis firefighters rescued a 17-year-old male Saturday from an elevator shaft at the Columbia Club after he got stuck–upside down and trapped between the elevator and the shaft wall.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they were informed by Columbia Club personnel that the victim was trapped on top of the elevator at the 10th floor. Two workers who happened to be inside the elevator became trapped when it automatically shut down. Firefighters believe the man’s positioning between the shaft wall and the elevator triggered the automatic shutdown. The two workers say that they were on the elevator going from the 4th floor to the 10th floor when it suddenly stopped and they heard a man screaming for help above them. Through an access hole in the elevator they were able to see that a man was upside down, fully extended and unable to move. They called 911 for help.

Firefighters used a combination of spreaders and cribbing to open the freight elevator and provide secure stabilization of the doors. Once open wide enough, they were able to maneuver the man down through the opening and onto the cot. He was alert and oriented. He told firefighters that he was staying at the hotel and was goofing around in the shaft, which he had accessed at the 8th floor. The two workers were removed by the same process of spreaders and cribbing on the 9th floor and using battery-powered hydraulic tools. They climbed out with assistance from the firefighters and were shaken but unhurt.

RITA L. REITH is a battalion chief with the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department and serves as the agency’s public information officer

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