Near-drowning report a ‘white-wash’
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The mother of a young Cromwell girl who was brought back to life after ‘drowning’ in a community pool says an internal investigation into the incident is a ‘‘complete white wash’’ and riddled with errors.
Rachelle Crooks has been on a crusade to increase pool safety and awareness at the Cromwell Swim Centre after her 6-year-old daughter nearly drowned at the pool on May 11 last year.
Rachelle and her children Amelia, 6, and Riley, 10, were visiting the pool for the first time. Crooks was sitting with other caregivers at the end of the therapeutic pool watching her daughter playing. Unaware the pool depth dropped away, Rachelle thought Amelia was safe. Suddenly she was gone. Riley raised the alarm, running past two lifeguards who were talking. He yelled to his mother who jumped into the pool. The two lifeguards stood poolside while she handed Amelia’s lifeless body up. For five minutes Amelia showed no signs of life while a nurse who was at the pool performed CPR with assistance from a lifeguard. After five minutes, Amelia was breathing and was taken to Dunedin Hospital.
‘‘I thought my baby girl was gone. I was in utter shock and am incapable of describing my daugh- ter laying there lifeless. I can not remove the horrific vision embedded in my head,’’ Crooks says.
At Worksafe’s request, the Central Otago District Council carried out a Duty Holder Review into the near drowning which Crooks says is nothing but a ‘‘white-wash’’. It fails to acknowledge the incompetence of the lifeguards; inadequacies in the pool’s health and safety systems and procedures; the investigation also excluded her and had errors.
The Duty Holder Review identified the lack of ‘‘mother’s’’ supervision as the basic cause.
Rachelle said she was outraged when she read the duty-holder review.
‘‘I was actively watching my daughter. How dare they blame me when the lifeguards were standing talking - knowing full well where the change in depth occurs. Neither I, nor my children, were made aware of the hazard. There was no signage of this possible danger. The lifeguards should have taken more responsibility and followed procedure. They were not skilled enough, were inadequate and incom- petent. They were not supervising the pool at the time; They didn’t ‘rescue’ Amelia - I jumped in; They had to be told what to retrieve; They didn’t attach the defibrillator. These lifesaving skills should have been done automatically.’’
She had also voiced concern at being excluded from the report, but was ‘‘fobbed off’’.
‘‘Just over a week had past and I merely responded (that) I was still in shock and caring for the needs of my children.’’
Central Otago District Council chief executive Leanne Mash said the investigation was completed in a timely manner and Crooks did not want to participate at that time. ‘‘Staff were aware of the distress she was under and respected her position.’’
Council had provided further information to Worksafe, which had also carried out a site inspection. Council had since undertaken ‘‘a number of actions’’, including the highlighting of supervisory responsibilities for caregivers of children aged under eight, and developing additional signage. Mayor Tim Cadogan had communicated and met with the parents and had acknowledged their concerns and distress.
Cromwell Swim Centre.