FIRE bosses are facing calls to rethink cuts after firefighters saved a teenage boy who slipped down a 20-metre slope behind a school.

A fire crew, from Malvern, rescued the 17-year-old from the bottom of a muddy bank, behind Hollymount School, in Holly Mount, Worcester.

The teenager fractured his ankle and caught his right leg in some wire, forcing firefighters to abseil down the slope.

The crew was dispatched at 5.27pm on Tuesday, August 8, and the other rope rescue team, in Droitwich, was unavailable.

Cllr Sarah Rouse, leader of the Democratic Group in Malvern Hills District Council, said the operation showed the importance of specially trained full-time firefighters.

The fire service wants retained staff, who have other jobs, to replace full-time firefighters in Malvern during the evenings.

But opponents claim the retained staff lack the skills - such as rope rescue - of their full-time colleagues.

Cllr Rouse said: "If you take them away, which is what they are proposing, how would they have got him out?

"20 minutes later the full-time [firefighters] would have gone home and the retained would have been there. Who would have rescued him?

"It's a good job it was only a broken ankle, what if he broke his back?

"Would they have just left him there until Droitwich was ready?

"It's critical that they are available 24 hours a day seven days a week."

West Midlands Ambulance Service sent two ambulances to the scene and dropped him off at Worcestershire Royal Hospital at 7.09pm.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service previously said it plans to train retained staff in rope rescue.

But Ms Rouse claims this is unfeasible due to the amount of time required for training and the fire service's aim to implement the changes by January.

The cuts are expected to save an estimated £300,000 and will restore full-time fire crew numbers from four back up to five.

Teams of five are preferred by the fire service they can operate quicker and still respond if one firefighter falls ill.

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