Patient evacuated in tower block drama

The casualty is taken to the helicopter
The casualty is taken to the helicopter

THERE were dramatic scenes in St Leonards last week as a man was evacuated from the ninth floor of a tower block on a builder’s scaffolding and airlifted to hospital.

At about 9.10am on Friday, March 25, paramedics were called to a flat in Kennedy Court, Stonehouse Drive, St Leonards, amid reports a man in his 30s was unwell. But on arrival, the ambulance staff realised they were going to struggle to get the man out safely due to the building work currently going on as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment of the AmicusHorizon flats.

So they enlisted the help of United House (UH), the contractors working at Kennedy Court, and called in the Sussex Air Ambulance helicopter, which landed in the Four Courts Community Centre at about 10am. Working with Trevor Holmes, a project manager for UH, the paramedics managed to get the patient over a balcony, onto the mobile scaffolding platform and safely to the ground where the air ambulance whisked him away to the specialist neurological unit at the Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Essex. The whole operation took about 90 minutes.

Police were also called to help with crowd control and a rope rescue team from the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) attended, but was not needed.

A spokesman for AmicusHorizon said there were no safety concerns over emergency access to the flats, despite Friday’s events. She said: “The health and safety of all our residents is our top priority.

“At the time of the incident the lift was in working order and the stairs were clear and available to use.

“In medical emergencies we always follow the guidance of the ambulance service. They assess individual emergencies on a case-by-case basis. “In this instance we supported their guidance to use the mast climber and air ambulance to get our resident to the hospital.”

And a spokesman for the contractors added: “Health and safety is a central consideration across all United House sites and staff are fully trained.

“We are glad that we were able to help with the rescue.”

--Meanwhile youngsters at the Stepping Stones nursery were thrilled to have a close look at the air ambulance which landed just yards from their building. While the medical crew attended the casualty, the pilot gave them a quick peek at the £5 million helicopter and allowed them to pose for a picture. Because he was there for 40 minutes, it in no way affected the care given to the patient and the children were delighted.