Inquiry after slide injures kids

By Mike Dinsdale

Government health and safety investigators are looking into how an inflatable bouncy slide blew away during a staff Christmas party in Whangarei, leaving four young children injured.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said safety investigators had launched an inquiry into the incident, which happened at Whangarei's Heritage Park in Maunu on Saturday afternoon.

ASB Bank staff from throughout Northland had gathered at the park for the bank's annual children's Christmas party.

Northland St John Ambulance boss Tony Devanney said a gust of wind is believed to have picked up the bouncy slide and dragged it about 20 metres along the ground.

Three children were on the slide at the time and another child was hit by the equipment as it was blown along.

Mr Devanney said four children were taken to hospital.

The Northern Advocate understands that twin 6-year-old boys had three broken arms between them while an 8-year-old girl received concussion.

The slide was hired from Trailblazers Northland, which specialises in inflatable play structures. No spokesperson from the company was available for comment.

ASB Bank general manager of public and external relations Christian May said a very strong gust of wind appears to have pulled the slide's tethers out of the ground and tipped it over.

"Three children who had been playing on the slide were injured as a result, and another child standing nearby was also knocked over. These four children were treated by St John Ambulance staff on site and then transported to hospital for further assessment. All of the children were discharged from hospital following treatment for their injuries," Mr May said.

"Our priority, both in the workplace and at ASB private functions, is always the safety and wellbeing of our people and their families. We are assisting the authorities with their review of this incident, as well as carrying out our own inquiries.

"We are also supporting the children and families involved in this unfortunate and distressing incident."

The Trailblazers website says its big slide costs $500 a day to hire while its giant slide costs $650 a day.

The company says all of its equipment is commercial grade, which means its bouncy castles and slides will safely support the weight of an adult.

It recommends adult supervision of all bouncy castles and slides at all times.

- Northern Advocate

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