FIRE chiefs have warned that an incident involving a man falling down a railway embankment could have proved fatal.
Bosses at Stranton Fire Station, in Hartlepool, have issued a warning for people to stay away from the railway line after the incident near the Brus Tunnel, in the West View area yesterday.
The man, believed to be in his 50s, was involved in an hour-long rescue yesterday after stumbling about 10ft down the embankment while taking a short-cut.
He was rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, for treatment though his injuries weren’t life-threatening.
The drama unfolded around 9.45am when a member of the public spotted the injured man on the bank and called police.
Within minutes, police, ambulance and fire crews arrived at the scene.
A fire crew used a ladder to reach him and a special “scoop” stretcher to pick him up and transport him down a pedestrianised embankment to paramedics before he was taken to hospital.
Jason Wood, watch manager at Stranton Station, said: “The man fell on the embankment, right over the Brus Tunnel.
“I imagine he probably fell between 8ft to 10ft and then slid halfway down the embankment.
“We helped the ambulance in getting him on a scoop stretcher and we closed the rail track and helped him up over the bank and down a walking embankment down the other side and carried him on to an awaiting stretcher.”
The fire crew spent an hour at the scene dealing with the incident.
But Mr Wood warned that the outcome of the incident could have had far worse consequences.
“My advice to anybody is to stay away from the railway lines,” he said.
“Had he slipped the other way, where there are two train tracks, he might not have been so lucky.
“We could quite easily have been dealing with a fatality from this incident.”
A Northern Rail spokeswoman said no trains were involved in the incident, though services were minimally disrupted for a short time.
A North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “We were called at 9.51am and arrived at 9.56am following reports of a man falling approximately 8ft.
“The patient was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees.
“The incident was classed as a non life-threatening injury.”