Life has its ups and downs

What goes up must come ... er, hang on.

Three cases of people trapped in Dunedin lifts this week, and a malfunction of a Dunedin Hospital lift which caused an evacuation yesterday, has left people wondering, well, what's up?

It was unusual for Dunedin firefighters to have so many callouts concerning lifts in a week, and it was often a difficult experience for those trapped, Dunedin Senior Station Officer Bob Calder said.

''Some people feel claustrophobic when the lift is not going anywhere, so you have to talk to them and explain you are there.

''Our main thing is to prevent panic, but we have lift keys to open the door above the unit and if need be we can put a short ladder down to the escape hatch on the roof,'' Mr Calder said.

On Monday night, the Fire Service was called to free a trio of terrified teens from the Harvest Court building and eight tourists were trapped in the Mercure Dunedin Hotel, on Princes St, the following night.

Mosgiel resident Valda Gardiner spent 30 minutes trapped in a ''tiny 1m-square lift'' at Consultancy House on Wednesday afternoon.

''It gave two almighty jerks and came to a halt and 30 minutes later I was still in it, absolutely beside myself,'' she told the Otago Daily Times that night.

She was freed by a technician, but people in the first two incidents were freed by firefighters.

Yesterday morning, the Fire Service was called to an electrical fault which produced smoke in the lift well of Dunedin Hospital, and while the lift was unoccupied it prompted a precautionary evacuation.

Mr Calder said when people were trapped, firefighters opened the doors to check if they were OK, while the lift company helped get the lift to the floor.

Sometime power failures caused a lift to stop between floors, or there were too many people in the lift and ''the lift gets a bit overloaded and cuts out'', he said.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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