Firefighters honoured after rescue of stroke victim

Lancaster Fire Station.

Lancaster Fire Station.

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FIREFIGHTERS risked their own lives to rescue a man from a scaffolding tower after he had suffered a stroke.

Members of White Watch Lancaster only had a three quarters of an hour window to rescue construction worker William Thomas and get him the hospital treatment he needed to survive.

The firefighters are being commended following the drama on August 16, 2011.

They were asked by paramedics to attend Chancellor’s Wharf in Lancaster where Mr Thomas had suffered a stroke at the top of a 10-metre high scaffolding tower.

A specialist rope rescue team were deployed but could not get there in less than 45 minutes and Mr Thomas’s condition suddenly worsened.

Firefighters were told that an immediate rescue was essential.

As a former member of the Rope Rescue Team, Firefighter Rob Parkinson believed that the rescue was possible by improvising with the equipment they had and watch manager Timperley decided that that’s what they would do.

Mr Thomas was drifting in and out of consciousness as a paramedic and firefighters got him into a harness to be gently lowered on a rope through trapdoors in the staging at various levels in the scaffolding tower.

Guided by firefighters Bould and Davies, who gave the casualty oxygen by mask as he was brought down to ground level, where he was transferred by ambulance to the intensive care unit at Lancaster Royal Infirmary. The prognosis for patients suffering from a stroke is varied, but the critical 
factor to improve a patient’s chances of rehabilitation and recovery is rapid commencement of hospital treatment in order to limit the trauma to the brain.

It was a courageous decision by firefighters to improvise with what they had to gain time for the casualty and it proves to have been the right decision for Mr Thomas who has not only survived but who has made an excellent recovery.

Five members of White Watch Lancaster are to receive commendations for the outstanding rescue.

Watch manager John Timperley and firefighters Robert Parkinson, Maxwell Bould, Alison Davies and Simon Walker are to receive their awards at a ceremony at Lancaster fire station on Tuesday, August 28.