West Tisbury woman fed up with Y elevator

YMCA says problem elevator will be replaced.

The elevator inside the Martha's Vineyard YMCA has been closed after a woman was trapped inside. — Stacey Rupolo

The Martha’s Vineyard YMCA has stopped using its elevator after a West Tisbury woman got stuck in it, requiring the Y to call in Oak Bluffs paramedics.

Jill Robie-Axtel, the Y’s executive director, told The Times that she’s not sure when the elevator, which has posed problems periodically since the building was opened in 2010, will be replaced.

“We’re in the process of replacing the elevator,” she said. “It can be a lengthy process.”

In a letter to The Times, Janice Fouks Blum wrote that she had complained about the elevator for five years before getting stuck in it on Oct. 17.

“The Y has chosen to ignore the problems with that elevator from day one,” she wrote. “They’ve continued to have it repaired over and over and over again — throwing good money after bad.”

Ms. Robie-Axtel declined to discuss how long the elevator has been an issue. “I’m not going to get into the details of all that,” she said.

Ms. Blum wrote that she was stuck in the elevator for 30 minutes and then spent an additional 30 minutes under the care of the Oak Bluffs paramedics.

A message left at her phone number was not returned.

“I didn’t time it, so I don’t know how long she was in there,” Ms. Robie-Axtel said. “We had her out as soon as we could.”

Fire Chief John Rose, who personally responded to the scene, said it took less than two minutes to respond to the Y’s call. It then took about two to three minutes to get her out of the elevator, he said.

“We had her out within five minutes of the call coming in,” he said.

The fire department has a specialized key to open the outside door and then trigger the interior release, he said. Chief Rose estimated the department has been called to assist someone in the YMCA elevator “once or twice in the last couple of years.”

It’s not unusual for the fire department to be called in to assist with elevator issues. “It happens because it’s a machine,” he said. “That’s why we have the special key.”

While the elevator is no longer in use, the Y is assisting members up and down the stairs.

“We may install a lift for the stairs if replacing the elevator will take too long,” Ms. Robie-Axtel said.