Firefighters, ambulance crews and RCMP were on scene at Dover Bay Secondary School this morning (June 22) carrying out a rope rescue after a student fell down an air shaft behind the school. (CHRIS BUSH/News Bulletin)

UPDATE: Nanaimo emergency crews pull student from duct at Dover Bay school

School district investigating how or why youth gained access to ventilation shaft

Emergency crews scrambled to Dover Bay Secondary School in Nanaimo this morning when a student fell down an airshaft behind the school.

A little before 9 a.m. Thursday, the male student fell about five metres down the shaft, which necessitated a technical rope rescue by Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters.

B.C. Ambulance paramedics and Nanaimo RCMP were also on scene for the operation, which took about an hour to stabilize the victim and winch him out of the hole on a back board.

“We initially got a call for a man down a sewer drain,” said Nanaimo Fire Rescue captain Rick Hyne, incident commander.

When firefighters arrived they discovered the youth had actually fallen down the air intake shaft for the school’s ventilation system.

“We immediately sent two guys down. The school had their first aid person down there already,” Hyne said. “So we went down, monitored the air, and went down and at that point we set up a rescue team.”

The youth, who has not been identified, suffered a broken leg from the fall and was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, according to Martin Drakeley, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief.

“We’re pretty happy with the way the crews performed, both NFR and B.C. Ambulance, and the individual is off to NRGH for evaluation,” Drakeley said.

Dale Burgos, Nanaimo school district spokesman, said the access grate for the ventilation shaft is always locked unless school maintenance staff or a contractor would have work to conduct in there, which is rare.

Burgos did not know how or why the student gained access.

“That’s part of why we’re all sort of scratching our heads, but we’re looking into the matter,” Burgos said. “We are investigating into it and how it was opened, because that’s always locked.”

photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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