Near drown­ing at gym angers fam­ily

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MASEGO PANYANE masego.panyane@inl.co.za

THE TRAU­MA­TISED fam­ily of a three-year-old boy who nearly drowned at Vir­gin Ac­tive Sand­ton in­sist the gym’s neg­li­gence nearly cost them their son’s life.

But Vir­gin Ac­tive said they ad­hered to their strict emer­gency pro­to­col in treat­ing the child.

Mum­taz Cho­han-Gani and Ahmed Gani and their three chil­dren were in a pool at the gym when, after look­ing away for a mo­ment, they spot­ted their son, Huza­ifah, float­ing un­con­scious.

“When I got to my son and lifted him up (out of the wa­ter), I re­alised that he was not breath­ing and he’d turned com­pletely blue,” said Cho­han-Gani.

She called out to her son but he was un­re­spon­sive. Cho­han-Gani then laid him down out­side the pool and screamed for her hus­band to get help.

Gani said when he ran into other parts of the gym he found no one to as­sist him. It was only when he reached re­cep­tion that he found some­one avail­able.

“My hus­band re­turned and al­most a minute later, Si­fiso, a gym staff mem­ber, comes in. An­other col­league brings in a first-aid kit, and puts it at his feet. For the du­ra­tion that I’m there per­form­ing CPR, he did not of­fer to help me or ask if I’m med­i­cally trained,” Cho­han-Gani said. “While he was stand­ing there, I asked him if they had a de­fib­ril­la­tor and he said ‘no’.”

Cho­han-Gani claims staff also did not of­fer to call for paramedics, or as­sist with their other chil­dren.

“We were never of­fered any­thing by any­one in Vir­gin Ac­tive. The Kauai (restau­rant staff mem­bers) also came out of the shop to watch the whole thing play out. By the time my son came around, we de­cided to take him to hos­pi­tal, but no one of­fered us any as­sis­tance,” Cho­hanGani said.

Vir­gin Ac­tive staff took their contact de­tails and called them to find out about Huza­ifah’s con­di­tion. But Cho­han-Gani said they made it clear to them that they wanted to dis­cuss their neg­li­gence.

Vir­gin Ac­tive spokesper­son Les Au­pi­ais said the gym has strict pro­to­col for emer­gen­cies, and that their staff are ad­e­quately trained.

“Should any staff mem­ber fail to meet these stan­dards – which we do not be­lieve was the case in this in­ci­dent – Vir­gin Ac­tive would in­ves­ti­gate fully and if nec­es­sary fol­low dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures,” Au­pi­ais said in a state­ment.

Au­pi­ais told The Star that footage of the gym’s in­te­ri­ors showed Huza­ifah was not un­con­scious.

How­ever, she said the gym’s man­age­ment were will­ing to meet with the fam­ily if they reached out to them again.

“We have only had pos­i­tive feed­back from the par­ents by phone calls – two of them – so we would await their di­rect contact with us in or­der to do so,” Au­pi­ais said.

The fam­ily said they would seek le­gal ad­vice be­cause they feel Vir­gin Ac­tive was neg­li­gent.

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