A CLEANER is in a critical condition after falling 20ft down a lift shaft at The Newlands Shopping Centre in Kettering yesterday.
The contractor was cleaning the inside windows of the shaft near to 99p Stores when he lost his footing and fell to the ground floor at about 2.45pm.
Emergency services were called immediately to the scene to first stabilise the man and then free him from the lift shaft.
The centre was then closed while paramedics treated him for his injuries before sending him to Coventry Hospital by air ambulance soon after 4pm.
Last night the centre manager Neil Griffin said he was shocked by news of what had happened.
He said: “I just hope to God the man is okay.
“I think the first priority is to make sure he is alright and then we will look into what has happened.”
He added: “At the moment I know very little except he is in a critical condition and he has been taken to Coventry.”
Three teams of firefighters, police and ambulance crews were called to the scene.
They included a team from Burton Latimer and Kettering, as well as a rope rescue team from Northampton.
Station manager Neil Imrie took charge of the joint emergency services operation.
He said: “We were called to reports of a male casualty who had fallen down the lift shaft.
“On arrival there was a badly injured casualty at the bottom of the lift shaft who had fallen some distance.
“He was stabilised by the attending paramedics and then extracted from the shaft by fire rescue teams.
“This was done as quickly and safely as possible.
“There will next be an investigation on what happened by the police.”
After emergency services arrived at the scene the police cordoned off Northall Street so the air ambulance could land.
Another air ambulance also landed on top of the centre.
Inside the centre many of the shops remained open, but the entrance to Newland Street was closed as were shops surrounding the incident.
However, at 3pm the centre announced it was closing and a small gathering of watching public at the scene were told to leave.
Only security staff and centre managers remained to assist emergency services.
The injured man was conscious as paramedics treated him before his journey to hospital.
A man who was working alongside him at the time he fell could also be seen being comforted by paramedics.
After the air ambulance left police re-opened Northall Street at about 4.30pm and town centre traffic jams eased.
Mr Griffin said the centre would open as usual today, but was unsure if the lift would be open to use.
The shopping centre has six public lifts.