On June 12 the elevator stopped working at Lakeview Pointe Apartments in West Kelowna with two women stuck inside.
Shelly, who asked to be identified only by her first name over fears of eviction for speaking out, discovered the stuck individuals when she attempted to leave the apartment complex with her daughter and the elevator wasn’t responding.
“We were pressing the button and the light would turn on and then just turn off, like it wasn’t working at all.”
With her daughter pounding on the elevator call button the pair then heard a faint hello.
“Someone was like, ‘is anybody out there?’”
Two women and a dog were stuck in the elevator, telling Shelly they had been stuck for about 25 minutes.
“They said they pressed the help button or used the phone in the elevator, but it was really crackly and they couldn’t hear what the person was saying…. So, they must have contacted the property managers and they got a hold of the elevator technician who is on the other side of Kelowna. They told them it was going to be around an hour before someone could get out there to get them out.”
Shelly said her first course of action was to call the office, but noted that staff are hardly ever there and no one answered the phone.
Shelly then made the decision to call the Kelowna RCMP’s non-emergency line and was transferred to the West Kelowna Fire Department.
“Within 10 minutes they were here and got them out.”
The lack of urgency from the property management company Canadian Apartment Properties – REIT, Shelly said was shocking.
While Shelly was on the phone with RCMP non-emergency a maintenance worker came to the elevator to post a sign over the elevator buttons.
The note read:
Elevator not operating currently.
Please be advised the elevator is stuck at this time. TK Elevator will be here as soon as possible to maintain the elevator. If you have any questions, please contact the management office.
The sign was posted while the two women were still inside.
“He put it up and didn’t even make eye contact with me. He came out of the stairwell, put the sign up and then went back into the stairwell. Not a word.”
Shelly said when the firefighters opened the elevator doors, the women “were on the ground with their dog, because there is no air in there. They were not okay and they were very frightened.” Thankfully the women and their dog were otherwise unharmed.
“They didn’t understand why they’d have to wait an hour for somebody and why the apartment didn’t call the fire department.”
Black Press spoke with West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund about what to do if you’re stuck in an elevator.
“This type of situation, first of all, doesn’t happen very often,” Brolund said, noting that it is required that elevators must be well maintained.
One’s first course of action if stuck should be pushing the emergency button or using the help phone inside the elevator like the two women attempted to do.
“That will get you in touch with help. If they make an assessment and determine that the fire department is needed then we certainly would respond.”
Brolund said the last thing anyone should do if they’re stuck in an elevator is attempt to rescue themself.
“Maybe they’ve seen it on TV and they know ‘if I pry here I can get out.’ It’s not safe. We want to avoid that, but we also want to make sure the situation doesn’t get any worse.”
Brolund said being stuck can cause anxiety to rise and create a medical emergency, making quick rescue more crucial.
At the end of the day, Brolund said there is nothing wrong with calling in the fire department if you’re stuck in an elevator.
Black Press reached out to the property management company by phone and email for comment, but CAPREIT has not responded.
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