8 employees trapped in city hall elevator

BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Emergency responders try to open the door of this Iloilo City Hall elevator. Eight city government employees are trapped inside, on the seventh floor, on March 20, 2017. All have been rescued. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – A pregnant woman and seven other persons were trapped in an elevator on the seventh floor of city hall around 11:45 a.m. yesterday.

The elevator was closing when Executive Assistant Fernando Jose “Boyet” Rico rushed to enter and hit the doors, said Building Administrator Victor Facultad.

“Then the elevator did not move anymore,” he said.

Trapped with the pregnant woman and Rico were six other city hall employees of the Office of the City Mayor.

With the help of other city hall employees, the six were able to squeeze their bodies through the narrow opening of the doors, leaving behind Rico and the pregnant woman.

Facultad sought the assistance of the Bureau of Fire Protection. The elevator doors were forcibly opened and Rico and the pregnant woman were rescued.

The extraction lasted for around an hour. At one point, the air inside the elevator became unbearable that emergency responders had to make available an oxygen tank for the pregnant woman.

Facultad informed the elevator supplier, Hyundai, of the incident and asked that it be repaired.

By 3 p.m., the elevator was functioning well again. Facultad said the doors misaligned and this caused the elevator glitch.

This was not the first time this elevator malfunctioned, he revealed.

The city hall has three elevators installed before the building was formally inaugurated in June 2012 by then President Benigno Aquino III.

Each elevator can ferry a maximum of 22 passengers, or 1,007 kg of load, according to Facultad.

SAFETY TIPS

The National Elevator Industry, Inc. of the United States based in Centreville, Virginia has several safety tips when stuck in an elevator.

One important advice is for those trapped inside not to try to extract themselves from the stalled elevator car.

It is extremely dangerous; always wait for trained emergency personnel, stressed the group.

One could be injured, dismembered or even killed trying to leave when a stalled elevator suddenly moves.

The group’s other safety tips are as follows:

* Push the “Door Open” button – If you are near the landing the door will open. You can slowly and carefully step out of the elevator. Be sure to watch your step as the elevator floor may, or may not, be level with the landing.

* Remain calm – If the door does not open, you are still safe. Do not try to exit the elevator. Wait for trained emergency personnel to arrive. Even if the air temperature feels warm, there is plenty of air circulating in the elevator and its hoistway.

* Press the Alarm or Help button, and use any available communication systems – Wait for someone to respond to you./PN