Several elderly and infirm residents could be stuck in their seven-storey Wollongong complex for a week or more after the only lift broke down on Sunday - with one of the residents in it.
According to another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, the resident was trapped in the lift for 45 minutes until a technician from Kone Elevators managed to free them.
Now the only access to the rear 28 units in the Housing Trust block at 34 Market Street is via the fire stairs, and the residents - who are all over 55 - hold serious concerns for their health and safety.
Trust operations manager Chris Lacey said the organisation was also concerned for the residents and was doing all it could to get the lift up and running.
However, as of late yesterday, he said the Kone technicians had still not been able to determine the cause of the fault.
"Our best guess is that the lift may be out for up to a week," he said.
That's not good news for one resident who claims she is stranded in her unit, as are many of her neighbours in theirs.
And, she said, it was not the first time it had happened in the building, which was only "a couple of years old".
"The lift broke down frequently in the early days and it has broken down about three times in the past year - although not for as long as this," she said.
‘‘All the residents are 55 or above and many of them have mobility or serious health issues and just cannot walk up and down so many stairs.
‘‘There’s a lady who’s over 80 on the seventh floor; there’s another resident who recently had a heart attack; some have had knee and hip replacements and there’s plenty who need motorised wheelchairs to get around.
‘‘On Monday, I did walk down the stairs and back to get to a medical appointment, and I’ve been in bed ever since – I’m not going out again till it’s fixed.’’
The resident said it was not only problematic for residents, but also for the people who came to visit or care for them.
‘‘You can’t do grocery shopping as it’s too hard to carry all those shopping bags up the stairs, and the garbage is building up as you don’t want to carry garbage all the way down,’’ she said.
‘‘People have had to miss medical appointments and it’s been hard to let carers and community nurses in as the lift is out of order and it’s a security building and we can’t just run down the stairs and open the door for them.
‘‘What if there’s a medical emergency – if another resident has a heart attack they could be dead by the time ambulance officers finally got to them.
‘‘We are all really scared.’’
Mr Lacey said the Housing Trust had been in contact with Kone and was doing its best to keep residents up to date, including door-knocking them on Monday, and again yesterday afternoon.
‘‘‘We appreciate that this situation is disruptive to residents and quite distressing if they are unable to walk and get down the fire stairs,’’ he said.
‘‘Any resident who faces an emergency should contact triple-0.’’