WILKES-BARRE — A lift that allows disabled visitors access to the Luzerne County Courthouse was out of commission Wednesday afternoon through Thursday, officials said.
A contractor was contacted to assess and repair the malfunction, said county 911 Executive Director and Interim Operational Services Division Head John Robshaw.
The lift was replaced within the last two years, and Robshaw suspects the breakdown was caused by a broken part or related to exposure to the cold. The lift is inside a vestibule at the building’s rear entrance near doors that repeatedly open and close throughout the day.
County security workers were instructed to contact offices the disabled intended to visit to determine if requested services could be provided at the rear entrance when the lift is down, Robshaw said.
If not, workers were advised to offer lift assistance through a local ambulance company, he said.
One disabled local resident visited the courthouse Thursday and used profanity to express displeasure over both options, Robshaw said.
The man wanted security guards to carry him, but Robshaw said the guards are not medically trained to lift someone and could have injured or dropped him. The man hoisted himself up the stairs on his own and visited the sheriff’s office to discuss a gun permit, he said.
The lift is the only means for the wheelchair-bound to access the historic structure. Visitors are elevated to the basement floor and can then use the main elevator to reach upper floors.
Robshaw said county officials have been discussing a secondary ramp or lift on the south entrance.
“That may happen in the long-term, but right now the rear lift is the only real option we have,” Robshaw said.
County officials had to rely on a large, exterior ramp at the south entrance in 2003, when the rear entrance closed due to levee-raising work behind the courthouse.