Concerns over first aid at ice rink

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The ice skating rink on The Strand has been the cause of black eyes, split lips and bruised heads but it is the treatment of those injuries which has a Western Bay mother and nurse concerned.

At least one staff member with a first aid certificate is rostered on at all times at Ice World but the mother, who asked not to be named, said that was not enough.

She went to the rink with her husband and two children earlier this month but the day was ruined when her youngest child took a tumble and ended up with a black eye.

"My youngest, who is 9 years old, fell hard on the ice and sustained a bad injury to the side of her face. I was given dirty melting ice that was scraped off the ice rink itself and put into a re-sealable plastic bag that had a hole in it," the woman said.

Two weeks later the woman returned to Ice World to watch friends who wanted to skate and witnessed three other accidents.

One child fell hard hitting the back of her head, another fell face first into the ice splitting his bottom lip, while another fell on the side of his face leaving his right eye red and swollen.

Staff provided the children with ice and a paper towel for the bleeding before leaving their parents to tend to them, the woman said.

"Neither I, nor the parents of the other children, were advised of any signs or symptoms to watch out for and there was no offer of them ringing the ambulance if the parents felt they needed it for their children," she said. "Just imagine how many children are falling over and not being properly attended to ... It was disgusting and I just couldn't believe it."

The woman questioned staff about their medical knowledge and was told they all had first aid certificates and one was a third-year nursing student.

"Although the staff members were put through a basic training, none of them actually used it because they were in a panic, she said.

"These young people are expected to run this family attraction, and if anything really serious were to happen on their watch and the right precautions were not used because of blind panic, then it would be on their hands for life."

Ice World Tauranga event manager Robert AhChee said staff informed him of the woman's complaint although he was not present at the time.

He said his staff were well trained and he was confident they handled the situations complained of well.

"We've got three staff on at all times. Two of them outside watching the rink. At least one person per shift has a first aid certificate and we have a well stocked first aid kit," he said. "If it's something more serious all we can do is general first aid; clean the wound. If it needs stitches all we can do is get them to A&E.; We are doing everything we can without getting a full-time doctor which wouldn't be viable."

Mr AhChee confirmed there were no icepacks but said staff had a supply of snaplock bags and a rink full of ice. The company does display a disclaimer stating that ice skating can be a dangerous activity and people entering the premises do so at their own risk.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (formerly the Department of Labour), said there were no exact safety regulations in terms of ice skating on a man-made surface. A Tauranga City Council spokesperson said there were health and safety requirements for all sanctioned events but the provision of first aid assistance was usually the responsibility of the operator. As standard practice council required that an appropriate first aid response be available.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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