For over twenty years Lifeskill Rescue Services Ltd. has provided skilled personnel during events that require the rope evacuation of aerial ropeways.
Period of uncertainty;
In the early minutes after a lift stop event there may only be limited information available to operators and maintenance personnel. Electronic panels will display sensor information from portions of the lift that aren’t visible to the operators eye, but those sensors only provide a clue, not full information about what has occurred.
Eg; *Break Fork tripped on tower 17* - Discovery after inspection: Cable has derailed from the tower. In this instance the derail might only be confirmed after someone has hiked to the tower, an activity that could take an hour or more.
Repair or evacuate?
After confirming the nature of the stop, maintenance personnel must then determine what is required to repair and return the lift to service. It may be apparent that repairs will take longer than a rope evacuation of the lift, and in those instances a decision to evacuate will be made quickly, usually within the first hour after a stop.
In some events rescue personnel will mobilise and deploy to pre-assigned positions on the mountain while repair attempts are made. This is done to insure against unexpected findings during repairs, or the failure of repair efforts.
Sheltered from wind and precipitation in the cabins of the gondola, passengers are safe while repair and/or evacuation efforts are underway. Passengers should never attempt to exit the cabins on their own. Rescuers are trained and equipped to evacuate the lift in all weather conditions, day or night. Please wait for rescuers to arrive, then follow their directions.
How long does it take?
During lift stop events that could lead to the need for an evacuation, rescuers are alerted right away, and begin to respond to the affected lift. A major time consuming element of lift evacuation is accessing the towers that rescuers will use to get onto the lift. If the normal means of travelling up the mountain is the lift itself, then hiking is sometimes the only remaining option, and this takes time. Hiking uphill, with equipment, and especially when there is snow covering the ground can take a couple of hours. The process of evacuating the lift will usually take less than four hours after rescuers have moved into position. Severe weather and darkness can extend the time required but evacuation efforts never stop entirely until the lift has been fully cleared of all passengers.
Further information during emergencies;
The websites of gondola operators will be updated at regular intervals after evacuation efforts get underway, and more frequent updates will be posted to Twitter and Facebook. Using mobile devices these updates can be monitored from the lift. After Lifeskill has been notified to respond, updates will be posted at regular intervals on the Lifeskill Twitter account (@LifeskillRescue).
Copyright – 2014 - Lifeskill Rescue Services Ltd.
(Site updated October 31st 2013)