Rescuers there for kids big and little

Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013

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No matter how young at heart you feel, baby swings and tree-climbing are best reserved for kids.

That is the lesson some adults learnt in 2013 after their childlike escapades required a rescue from their local fire brigade.

A list of Canterbury and West Coast fire fighters' non-road-related rescues, provided to The Press, tallies a host of victims falling foul of swings, trees and at least one vending machine.

While children accounted for the largest proportion of quirky rescues - mostly toddlers locking themselves in bathrooms, toilets, or cars such as Christchurch 18-month-old Jimmy Nott experienced in October - grown-ups had their fair share.

In October, Washdyke firefighters helped get a man out of a tree after he was hit by a branch while "declimbing".

In January, a person had to be unstuck from a baby swing in Pleasant Point, Timaru.

A 24-year-old man got his finger stuck in a vending machine in Burwood, Christchurch, in July.

Someone else got their finger stuck in a trolley in Linwood in August, while an arm required freeing from between bed bars in Templeton in July.

Two men were rescued from cherry pickers in separate incidents in Darfield in June and in Kirwee in August. They were retrieved using a ladder.

Trapped children accounted for 11 recorded rescues this year.

They included a child who got their foot stuck in a bike, a 9-year-old boy and a girl who got stuck in a swing, an 18-month-old got stuck in a high chair, and a 14-year-old who got their finger caught in gym equipment.

Some of the calls were more serious.

In September, an elderly woman had to be treated in hospital for her stressed condition after being locked in a hot office for two hours in Phillipstown, while an elderly man had to be retrieved after getting stuck on a roof in Glenwood, Timaru last month.

The Fire Service said the list showed it was not just fires and crashes that required its assistance. Christchurch Metro assistant area commander Greg Crawford said the rescues were "all part of the service we provide".

The Fire Service was about saving life and limb, so if someone was trapped and in pain they treated it as an emergency, he said.

Crawford said firefighters also still rescued cats up trees, and even recaptured escaped birds.

"There's not many cat skeletons up poles or trees. I still haven't found a way to catch a bird that got away.

"You give the cat a squirt of water and it comes down. You squirt the bird, they fly away."

Fires accounted for possibly as little as 10 per cent of their work, Crawford said, while road rescues, smoke alarms, home fire safety checks, chemical incidents and civil defence work was on the rise.

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- The Press


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