Pain after exam
SCORES OF PARENTS ARE ANGRY after several children ended up in hospital yesterday after an afternoon of fun and frolic to celebrate the completion of the annual Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination went horribly wrong.
After completing the test, commonly referred to as the 11-Plus, 200 pupils headed over to the tennis court on the eastern side of the Hilton Barbados to unwind.
There were video games, a mechanical bull, an inflatable slide and other activities. However, around 3:20 p.m., the merriment came to an abrupt halt when the inflatable slide came crashing down.
Police public relations officer, Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss said 13 children and one adult were injured. Some were treated at the scene while others were transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
The mass casualty incident triggered responses from several agencies, including the Barbados Defence Force and Barbados Fire Service. None of the injuries was said to be life-threatening.
Several parents criticised the organisers of the event, stating there was poor supervision.
“These children barely missed it. They were on it but because the tent didn’t feel right to them, they got off and missed it by a split second. Nobody was there supervising,” one irate woman said.
As she gave her account, her friend told the MIDWEEK NATION she watched in shock as the structure slowly toppled over and briefly trapped some of the children as they landed on top of one another.
“There were too many children on it so it literally lifted off the ground and it went over,” the woman added.
Concerned parent Stephenson Boyce said he received a call about 3 p.m. and he quickly rushed to the location. His son Shaquon was one of four who were rushed to the QEH.
Boyce said the 11-year-old’s chin was “mashed up” and he was complaining of pains to the back.
Parent Mark Welch, who was at the scene, described the situation as “heartbreaking”. He was thankful his son Aamarie Welch was not injured. The Roland Edwards Primary student said the incident dampened his day, since he watched some of his schoolmates being carried out on stretchers.
In a short statement, the Hilton said its thoughts remained with the affected, while promising to assist police with investigations.
“The safety and security of our guests is of paramount importance. We are in close contact with the third party vendor hired to provide the entertainment, and we will continue to work with the police as they investigate the incident. Please direct any further inquiries to the police department,” the statement read.
The Ministry of Education also said it was saddened by the events and empathised with the parents. It has promised to monitor the conditions of the injured children. (TG)
Read more in the Midweek Nation. Please see also Pages 4, and 43 to 45.