Firefighters use Waltham Windmill to train for working at height
RESCUERS faced a race against time to haul a woman 72 steps to safety at Waltham Windmill.
She was taken seriously ill and had to be stretchered the six floors from the top of the landmark to the bottom.
Fire crews used winches and ropes to ensure the safety of the woman, who was lowered 65ft with the help of the nine-man crew from Peaks Lane fire station.
But this was not a true 999 alert, as the crew were practicing their rescue skills from a tall building.
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The woman in need of an emergency rescue was, in fact, a 60 kilogram dummy, which had been strategically placed in the windmill so the crew members could test their abilities and equipment.
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Watch manager Stuart Axcell said: "We are using the windmill as a venue to test our working at heights.
"There are many tall buildings in North East Lincolnshire and it could happen that someone falls or is or taken ill with a cardiac arrest and needs rescuing.
"This gives us an opportunity to practice our skills at height.
"This could happen on a crane or at the top of a gantry on a building site.
"We need to practice in a realistic scenario. We are a fire and rescue service, not just a fire service, and that means responding to all sorts of incidents."
The two crews from Peaks Lane used a stretcher and ropes.
Mr Axcell said he was grateful to the miller John Liles and the trustees of Waltham Windmill for allowing the firefighters to practice their skills.
Mr Axcell said: "It is fantastic they have allowed us to use the windmill. It is in their interest, as well as that of a visitor to the mill, who might need rescuing.
"The dynamic of this building is a lot different. This is ideal training environment and helps improve our skills for any eventuality."
A miller of 12 years, Mr Liles said: "We get people going up, but nervous about coming down.
"We had one little girl taking half an hour before she would start coming down.
"But it's not just children – there are grown ups who get into difficulty."
Mr Liles added: "We are grateful to the service. The experience they gain here could be vital.
"They could come up against a similar situation in another part of the town and they will be able to draw on this experience."
Mr Liles said the windmill is more than 70ft high.
He said: "I keep taking cod liver oil capsules to keep me nimble for going up and down the steps. There are 72 over the six floors."
The sails to the windmill are more than 32ft long.
They did not move during the exercise to avoid any moving parts during the rescue exercise.
The dummy was brought to safety after an hour thanks to firefighters David Scott and Mac Thomas.