Two maintenance workers were rescued from a manhole by emergency services. Photo: City of Cape Town
Two maintenance workers were rescued from a manhole by emergency services. Photo: City of Cape Town

Firefighters rescue maintenance workers trapped in a storm water pipe

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Dec 1, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town’s firefighters are being praised after a dangerous rescue ended successfully.

On Tuesday, two maintenance workers were trapped in a storm water pipe while working.

The men who work for a private contractor were overcome by hazardous vapours and collapsed.

Firefighters responded to the scene before 4pm under the Weltevreden Bridge across the R300 highway near Mitchells Plain.

A technical confined rescue team from Goodwood was called in to assist Metro Emergency Medical Service and were joined by Metro ambulance staff.

Two maintenance workers were rescued from a manhole by emergency services. Photo: City of Cape Town

Law Enforcement, Traffic Services and South African Police Service, as well as a private ambulance were all on scene.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, Alderman JP Smith said the Goodwood station commander, Warren Sam took over the scene and enforced the confined space rescue system.

The scene was cleared and only authorised personnel were allowed to enter the scene.

Smith said a clear line of sight to the manhole was created and a disciplined communication system was maintained.

“Gas reading showed oxygen levels were only acceptable when fresh air was being pumped in through the manhole.

“Without it, the oxygen level dropped rapidly and this was a concern.

“This meant they had to do a gas reading every five minutes, increasing the pressure on what was already a tense situation,” Smith said.

Two maintenance workers were rescued from a manhole by emergency services. Photo: City of Cape Town

He said Metro Rescue set up a quadpod with rope systems for a high anchor point above the opening.

Firefighters assisted with additional rope work for the hauling and lowering of the rescuer and patients.

The rescued men were in critical condition once removed from the manhole and taken to Vincent Palotti Hospital for treatment.

“I am proud of our firefighters who took control of the situation to ensure everyone involved were safe. Throughout the rescue, it was the contractor who ensured fresh air which maintained the survival oxygen level. I commend all on scene for their teamwork and dedication which ensure a successful rescue,” Smith added.

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