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Parks Dept will reissue gate keys to KEMH

Efforts are under way to ensure all emergency services can access national parks after a locked gate delayed rescuers from reaching a drowning child.

A bystander had to break the lock on the gate of Admiralty House Park last Friday afternoon to allow an ambulance and police through.

The victim was a nine-year-old boy who got into difficulty while swimming around Clarence Cove and was rushed to the intensive care unit.

The Department of Parks said the gates were always kept locked but that the emergency services had been issued keys, although the hospital had asked for new sets.

A Parks spokesman said: “We have experienced the problem of having cars being driven all throughout the park, which puts children at risk, and we have motorcyclists racing up and down the hills and using the park like a scrambling track.

“We have the same issues in all other parks and have had children knocked down and injured by vehicles when gates were unlocked.

“The Department of Parks has provided all emergency services with keys to the National Park gates. The hospital has enough keys for each ambulance.

“We spoke with the coordinator for the Emergency Department and they wish for us to reissue the keys.”

The Department said it was unable to have a lifeguard during the summer at Admiralty House Park, a popular swimming spot for families and summer camps.

The spokesman said: This is something we have considered over the years but, based on existing resources, have not done so.

“We hope camp operators have equipped themselves with proper water-safety techniques and encourage water safety for children and young people.”

Bermuda Police Service said it was “taking necessary steps” to ensure a similar situation did not occur in future.

A spokesman added: “We will be meeting with the relevant Government agencies to review protocols for accessing various parks in emergency situations.”

Bermuda Hospitals Board was asked what had happened to the keys the Parks Department had issued them, but was unable to respond to a request for comment by press time.

Ralph Richardson, chairman of the Water Safety Council, urged parents to keep a close eye on children to prevent future accidents.

He said: “The biggest problem with children in the water is attention. It's a really serious problem, especially for parents and guardians with cellphones.

“Make a concerted effort not to carry cellphones to the water when in charge of children, you can be distracted by it ringing or a text.

“In the time it takes to answer a text a child can get into trouble. Children should be our first focus.

“Accidents can happen extremely quickly, even when someone is watching. Remember — attention, attention, attention.”

Mr Richardson said he would discuss with the Council the possibility of running CPR seminars for parents and adults who supervise summer camps.

He said: “There's no reason you couldn't encourage that. Instead of first aid and cuts and bruises we could focus on CPR.

“More people could be encouraged to take CPR classes for the safety of their children.”

Admiralty House has been empty and unused for years but the Department of Parks confirmed there were plans to renovate the historic property.

The spokesman said: “Currently we have had both engineers and contractors assess the ballroom.

“The Department of Parks is looking at a phased approach with regard to renovations.”

A piece of metal chain is shown discarded after a near drowning at Clarence Cove, Admiralty House Park on Friday. The chain was cut by a bystander after a locked access gate hindered emergency responders for almost 15 minutes

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Published July 25, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 25, 2014 at 12:03 am)

Parks Dept will reissue gate keys to KEMH

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