The dramatic rescue of a man trapped beneath thousands of tons of cheese after racking collapsed at a Shropshire warehouse was a “triumph of teamwork” a senior fire officer said today (May 10).
Shropshire Fire and Rescue’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Rod Hammerton, was present throughout the eight-hour search for fork lift truck driver, Tomasz Wiszniewski, who was trapped inside a refrigerated warehouse when racking holding more than 4,000 tons of cheese collapsed.
Anxious workmates clapped and cheered when Mr Wiszniewski, flanked by rescuers, emerged through a large hole firefighters had cut into the side of the warehouse. News of his successful rescue was broadcast nationwide by television and radio and the story made headlines in many of the UK’s national newspapers.
“It was the best ending possible and a triumph for the emergency services teams who worked tirelessly to find Tomasz amidst the devastation inside the warehouse and bring him out safely. It was quite a moment,” Rod Hammerton said.
The drama began on Friday morning (May 6) when Shropshire Fire and Rescue received a 999 call reporting that racking had collapsed inside a large refrigerated warehouse at Edwards Transport’s chilled storage and distribution complex near Hinstock and a member of staff was believed missing.
“The sight that greeted the emergency services was remarkable and daunting, Rod Hammerton said. “The warehouse was practically full to the ceiling with collapsed racking and thousands of pallets of cheese. The collapse was unstable – we could hear it creaking –and finding someone in all that was going to be very challenging.”
Shropshire Fire and Rescue firefighters were joined by Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from West Midlands FRS, search dog teams from Merseyside FRS and Leicestershire FRS and Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART) from West Midlands Ambulance Service and officers from West Mercia Police.
A delighted Debbie Belcher of Edwards Transport watched as Tomasz Wiszniewski emerged from the gloom of the warehouse into the early evening sunshine.
“That’s just wonderful,” she said. “We have had a sense of dread all day but now, seeing Tomasz alive and well, we feel fantastic. I can’t praise the emergency services enough for what they did. They were brilliant.”