Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Locked in a lift

I really never thought they would switch the power off to St Kilda Road. It is a critical area with nearly all building having lifts incuding the second most major police building in the state. But when the fires in the north of the state affected the power wires from New South Wales, that is what they did. Switched us off.

Ring, ring. R called. I did not answer. It was to alert me that he was nearly home and I should come down and move my car as I will be leaving first in the morning. I did so. As we were coming back into the building, I decided I would go to the ground floor and check the pot plants were watered by building staff this morning.

They had been. Myself, two of the cleaning staff, the building manager and Famous Bearded Media Person's very glam wife, hereafter referred to a C, entered the lift. Building manager got out of lift on 1st floor. At the second floor lift stopped and emergency lighting came on. We had no idea why the lift stopped at 4.05. I could hear noise from the lift next door and then the sound of a phone line dialling. The person was obviously using the emergercy system to call the lift company. When I heard the voice, it was R, stuck in the other lift. We too called the lift company. Fifteen minutes, she promised.

C could not get a Vodaphone signal in the lift so she borrowed the building manager's Telstra phone that was in possession of one of the staff and called an underling to come to the building. She then tried calling 000 (911, 999, 112) but could not get through. We learned later it was swamped. Eventually we forced the bottom of the lift ajar as it was stinking hot and it did let some air in. The building staff locked in with us were busy calling the building manager and answering concerns by residents.

I called R in the next lift to see if he was ok and he was. Subsequently we sms'd back and forth.

By five o'clock a crowd had gathered. The vip people in the building and three of C's staff. One staff had brought a radio so we could listen to her husband broadcasting about the fires and the state wide electrical problem. He did not know his wife was locked in the lift. He did bang about how he was concerned that he may not be able to get into the car park when he went off air and came home.

Some water bottles were flattened and slipped through the lift gap to give us a much needed drink. We darded not have too much lest we needed to go, but by the amount of sweat we were losing, I don't think it would have been a problem.

By five o'clock, the emergency lighting failed and C powered up her lap top, which gave us sufficient light. I made a bit of small talk with her and the building staff, but in such hot conditions, I was envious of R in a lift on his own. People continued to hover outside, every so often keeping us updated. By 5.30 lift staff had arrived, I suspect only because they have the contract for the police station nearby and they had already released the police folk. R had opened his inner door and they told him to push some rollers to the side and he was out. Being the caring and sharing person he is, he straight away bolted up to our apartment. Haha, the electric is not working, it is not cool there either

The lift people told us they would have to work from the top down to release us. I think it was 5.50 when we got out. We were just really lucky that the lift people werent far away and let us out within two hours. The power did not come on until around 7.45.

It was not a great experience. I walked up many flights of stairs to our apartment and straight away had a shower, though the buildings pumps werent working and the pressure was low.

My late step brother used to work for the State Electricity Commission. He was the person who sits in front of the screen and decided who to switch off if there was a shortage of power. There was a plan for him to follow. Once he assured my step mother that her place was one of the last to be switched off according to the roster.

This sounds like a good idea, switch areas off for an hour and then switch them back on and switch another area off. While I dont know the extent of city buildings turned off and people trapped in lifts, it really isnt fair to switch us off for nearly four hours while other people had no interuption at all.

It was all a bit much for me and I decided I could not face work today.

(lack of punctuation is because some keyboard shortcut thing is happening)


  1. Anonymous11:32 am

    Andrew that has got to be the WORST LUCK EVER.

  2. Live by the HighRise, Die by the HighRise?.

    Consider it your baptism by fire - and Arise Sir HighRiser?

    Now you can create your Emergency Plan to prevent all of that ever happening again - like, Never both travel in the same lift, always have key to the others car, only live in buildings where the maintenance contractor has a Bigger client in the same area .... and consider yourself lucky.

  3. Andrew you were the first person I thought of when I heard the news. I did remember that you could open a door onto the balcony but trapped in the lift with a crowd was bad. Good if it had been just one cute guy.....

  4. To be honest I did have a giggle at this story. The fact you remained calm throughout is a credit.

  5. Anonymous1:41 am

    Wow, I agree with andy b - I always thought that if I were stuck in an elevator I would freak right out.

  6. aawwww... you poor thing, I dread the thought of being stuck in a lift, scares me more than anything.

  7. Yes, Rosanna, I am the lucky one.

    Not lucky Crystal, although it could have worse.

    Jah Teh, open the balcony door to jump? It was considerably cooler in the apartment than the 40deg outside.

    No choice but to stay calm Andy. I am not the hysterical type anyway.

    Yes Jess, but in the actual situation, you might not.

    The worst part Jo was the heat.