Chief firefighter praises control staff after they stayed on phone for TWO HOURS with teen trio stuck in Northampton's drains
All emergency services saw a four-hour rescue plan get underway in Northampton on Monday evening after three lads, in their late teens, became lost and trapped in the town's drainage system.
The group commander for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service Kev Hardwick, who is based at Mereway, said the event was "unusual" and was a first for him in his 25 years of service.
Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service received a call from one of the the lads at 6:37pm, from inside the drains, after he told control room staff he was lost in Northampton’s sewage system alongside two of his friends.
Kev said: "The most challenging thing was trying to establish where they were. One of the lads, themselves, phoned 999 and it came through to our control centre.
"Phone signal in the drain system is not very good. It was very difficult for our control staff to have a good conversation. The phone signal kept dropping out.
"Our control staff did an absolutely fantastic job - they stayed on the line with the individuals for over two hours. That was our biggest challenge."
The three boys entered the drainage system near the River Nene, in the Mill Lane area, some time in the afternoon on Monday (July 9) and travelled a considerable distance.
Fire crews, police officers, East Midlands Ambulance Service, Highways and Anglian Water - who provided a mapping system of Northampton's drains - worked together to locate the boys who were eventually found and rescued in the Kingsthorpe area.
One of the teenagers was rescued from Kingswell Road, in Kingsthorpe, while the other two were pulled from the drains on Harborough Road after lights were shone down the drains and megaphones were used to make contact.
Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo this afternoon (July 11) Kev added: "We advocate not doing this kind of thing. Whilst this had a happy ending it could have clearly been a very different ending to this type of incident.
"The big bonus for us was our control staff. They stayed on the line for two hours, got us a location to work with and helped us get to the boys so quickly."