What should you do in an emergency? Should first responders immediately call the emergency services, or take prompt action to save lives? Even at ground level, a lot of people do not know how best to react when an accident occurs. So what happens when you’re 85 metres in the air? That’s what the trained professionals in the fire service are for – but even they have to practise regularly for emergencies. Yesterday, a high-altitude rescue team from the Braunschweig fire service carried out an attention-grabbing rescue exercise at the RWE wind farm in Eicklingen. Not only did the six members of the fire crew have to perform the rescue from the narrow space near the rotor, but they then also had to lower the “victim” from the hub of the turbine by rope.
Matthias Ebeling, high-altitude rescue trainer for the Braunschweig fire service, sums up: “Rescuing someone from a wind turbine poses a technical challenge. When an emergency occurs, it is not just a question of how fast the services can reach the location, but also how well practised the team is. Every hand hold must be right. My team adopted a structured approach to today’s challenge and dealt with it calmly. I find it reassuring that we are well prepared for an emergency and that we can be sure of performing the abseiling part safely.”
“To ensure safe operations, our employees regularly review wind turbines, even in remote locations,” adds David Elsper, Occupational Health & Safety Officer at RWE Renewables. “Our top priority is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. To be able to respond correctly and, above all, swiftly in an emergency, we regularly train our employees in accordance with the highest standards and involve local emergency services in our exercises, as we did today. Our rescue strategy not only includes first aid for employees who are injured or sick, rescuing the individual and setting up crisis management teams, but also ensuring comprehensive communication with relevant third parties. I’d like to thank everyone involved in today’s exercise – their swift action could save lives in an emergency.”
All in all, RWE operates onshore wind farms in Germany with a pro rata installed capacity of more than 550 MW. To provide training for the entire high-altitude rescue team at the Braunschweig fire service, the rescue exercise will be repeated at the wind farm in Schmarloh on 22 July.