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    The picture that shames Britain

    As a man's body floats in three feet of water, 25 emergency workers stand and watch because they aren't 'trained' to go in water


    MoS investigation into park pond tragedy and emergency services’ response reveals:

    Rules that stopped firemen entering water were meant for fast-flowing rivers
    Coalition ‘common sense’ report gives green light for heroes – but was ignored
    Our reporter, in pair of waders, took two minutes to reach spot where body floated

    The busy scene on the banks of the lake appears to show our emergency services at their dynamic best.

    An air ambulance stands by as two specialist officers in yellow ‘immersion suits’ deliver a man who has collapsed into the water to paramedics at the water’s edge.

    They attempt to resuscitate him inside an inflatable tent. A queue of ambulances and fire engines stands by ready and waiting near a small crowd of shocked onlookers. Yet the story behind this picture is anything but impressive.



    Walpole Park 12.52pm: The massive operation to haul Mr Burgess from the lake - 37 minutes after he was first spotted

    This was Walpole Park in Gosport, Hampshire, on an overcast lunchtime last March when no fewer than 25 members of the emergency services, including a press officer, descended on a 3½ft-deep model boating lake minutes after Simon Burgess, 41, fell into the water when he suffered a seizure. But as an inquest heard last week, he lay floating face-down for more than half an hour while firemen, police and paramedics watched and did nothing.

    The reason? Even though they could all swim, the first fire crew to arrive hadn’t been ‘trained’ to enter water higher than ankle-deep. Instead they waited for ‘specialists’ to arrive to retrieve his body. They had decided Mr Burgess must surely be dead because he had been in the water for ten minutes. When a policeman decided to go in anyway, he was ordered not to. A paramedic was also told not to enter the water because he didn’t have the right ‘protective’ clothing and might be in breach of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

    The tragic incident made headlines around the world, held up as a shocking example of ludicrously risk-averse Britain. And it prompted a coroner to demand that fire, police and ambulance services improve training to prevent a repeat.

    Following the inquest, a Mail on Sunday investigation has now discovered that:
    The ‘ankle-deep’ rule was meant for fast-flowing water and is taken from guidelines drawn up to deal with floods.
    Other rescue agencies believe people can survive submerged for much longer than ten minutes – some will still try resuscitation at 90 minutes.
    The incident happened despite a previous reassurance from the Health and Safety Executive that firefighters would not face prosecution if they performed acts of heroism that break rules.
    Mr Burgess could have been reached within two minutes of emergency crews arriving at the scene – as proved by our reporter who went into the lake and waded 25ft to the spot where his body had been floating.

    Mr Burgess had been feeding swans from a plastic bag that blew into the lake. He went in to retrieve it and while he was in the water he had a fit and fell unconscious. Last week, Coroner David Horsley ruled his death was an accident on the balance of probabilities, but said there was a chance, ‘albeit a slim one’, he could have been saved had the emergency services intervened sooner.

    Fire station watch manager Tony Nicholls arrived at the scene within five minutes but refused to try to rescue Mr Burgess because, he told the inquest, his crew’s ‘Level 1’ training only allowed them to go in the water up to their ankles.

    Hampshire Fire and Rescue said all its firefighters were trained to Level 1, which includes ‘general water safety awareness and basic land-based rescue techniques’. To comply with the guidelines, they had to wait for a specialist water rescue team to arrive. Mr Nicholls said these officers were ‘Level 2-trained’, meaning they could ‘go in chest- high’. Only those who had completed the Level 3 course would be allowed to swim, however.

    Although it wasn’t made clear at the inquest, the rule about not entering water more than ankle-high is based entirely on guidelines drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for tackling flood emergencies.

    A Hampshire Fire and Rescue spokesman admitted the service knew the guideline was originally intended as advice to be followed at flood incidents – but the service insists firefighters apply it in ALL water-related incidents.



    A Defra spokeswoman explained: ‘Our guidance is only ever to be used by the emergency services in response to a flood. This is because floods by their very nature are highly unpredictable, unlike existing bodies of water. Our guidance should never be used in any other instance.’

    However, the Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, Sir Ken Knight, has included the Defra training recommendations in an ‘operational guidance’ document on water safety.

    One of the police officers at the scene, PC Tony Jones, told the inquest that he volunteered to go in, but was ‘strongly advised’ not to by Mr Nicholls. The PC also told the inquest that Mr Nicholls refused to let him borrow his lifejacket.

    Then PC Jones was told by his control room that ‘under no circumstances’ should he attempt a rescue. Asked to explain that decision, Hampshire Police said yesterday: ‘The fire service were already there and they were recovering a body.’ The decision to downgrade the incident from a rescue to a ‘body retrieval situation’ reflected the confusion over submersion victims.

    The Royal National Lifeboat Institution said the only instances in which its rescuers would not attempt resuscitation would be if a body was already decomposing, or had been submerged for more than 90 minutes. Rescuers in the US believe a person can be revived after being immersed in water for up to an hour.

    Professor Mike Tipton, of Ports–mouth University, concluded in a report for the emergency services last year that if ‘water temperature is warmer than 6C [42F], survival is extremely unlikely if submerged longer than 30 minutes’.

    Chances of survival are much higher if water temperature is lower than this, but not if the body is submerged for more than 90 minutes.

    He produced examples of people who had been saved after submersion of between 20 and 60 minutes.

    Despite the safety rules, those at the scene could have entered the water under Health and Safety Executive guidelines that exempt 999 workers from prosecution if they perform acts of heroism. This follows Lord Young’s report, Common Sense, Common Safety, which called for an end to ‘senseless’ rules and regulations.

    Last night, Fire Minister Bob Neill said: ‘Health and safety rules should be there to save lives, not put them at risk.’ He added that the Government would review existing guidance and take into account lessons learnt from recent incidents.

    I waded out to the spot in two minutes

    By NICK CONSTABLE

    Treading carefully, it would have taken rescuers less than two minutes to reach Simon Burgess as he floated face-down in Gosport’s Walpole Park pond.


    I know this because I put on a pair of waders and made my way across the 25ft of water that fire officers decreed was too dangerous for their crew, given that Mr Burgess was showing ‘no visible signs of life’.

    Based on information given by the main independent witness, Gillian Hughes, I went into the former boating lake and made my way out to the spot where Mr Burgess had been floating.



    'No danger': Reporter Nick negotiates the lake

    Because this was a simple reconstruction rather than an emergency, I had time to don anglers’ waders and boots. I used a pole to prod the lake floor ahead of me.

    Easing myself into the half-moon-shaped lake, the water immediately rose thigh-high.

    I could feel the bottom was covered in thick sludge but beneath lay a hard, even base that was straightforward to negotiate. At no point did the depth rise higher than 3½ft, and at no point did I feel as if I was in the remotest danger.

    Mrs Hughes, a 53-year-old catering assistant, had been walking beside the lake with her two-year-old grandson as the tragedy unfolded in March last year.

    Like Mr Burgess, they had been feeding the swans. She watched him trying to reach a plastic bag that had blown into the water, then saw him step in fully clothed and start swimming.

    He appeared to be smiling but in fact, the inquest heard, epileptic Mr Burgess was probably having a seizure. He soon stopped moving.

    Mrs Hughes dialled 999 and watched the Gosport fire crew arrive. But as they waited on the bank, showing little sign of activity, her frustration boiled over.

    ‘I just could not believe how everybody stood around doing nothing,’ she told me. ‘I said, “Quick, go in and get him. He might be all right.”

    ‘One of them said, “We’re not allowed.”

    ‘After the body was recovered and I was brought over to give a statement to police, another fireman came over and said, “We’re not allowed to go in more than ankle-deep.”

    ‘I asked why. He replied, “Health and safety.” I’ve never heard of anything so stupid in my life.’

    Our reconstruction shows that Mr Burgess could have been reached by firemen – who took five minutes to reach the scene – within seven minutes of

    Mrs Hughes’s 999 call, rather than the 37 minutes that it eventually took.

    As I stepped out of the water, members of the Gosport Model Yacht Club, who use an adjoining pond, stopped to talk about the tragedy. One said: ‘We often wade in to free up yachts that get stuck. Why couldn’t firemen do the same for a dying man?’

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    Fire station watch manager Tony Nicholls arrived at the scene within five minutes but refused to try to rescue Mr Burgess because, he told the inquest, his crew’s ‘Level 1’ training only allowed them to go in the water up to their ankles.
    One of the police officers at the scene, PC Tony Jones, told the inquest that he volunteered to go in, but was ‘strongly advised’ not to by Mr Nicholls. The PC also told the inquest that Mr Nicholls refused to let him borrow his lifejacket.
    ‘After the body was recovered and I was brought over to give a statement to police, another fireman came over and said, “We’re not allowed to go in more than ankle-deep.”

    ‘I asked why. He replied, “Health and safety.” I’ve never heard of anything so stupid in my life.’
    As I stepped out of the water, members of the Gosport Model Yacht Club, who use an adjoining pond, stopped to talk about the tragedy. One said: ‘We often wade in to free up yachts that get stuck. Why couldn’t firemen do the same for a dying man?’
    ‘I just could not believe how everybody stood around doing nothing,’ she told me. ‘I said, “Quick, go in and get him. He might be all right.”

    ‘One of them said, “We’re not allowed.”
    Fucking wankers.

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    Thailand Expat Jesus Jones's Avatar
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    UK is fooked for sure along with humanity!

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    I blame the "Kunt" as Socal calls it, Gillian Hughes, the woman who rang 999.

    I'm sure if it were a member of her family she would be in there trying to help, or screaming blue murder to any passers by.

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    ^Maybe she can't swim? But blame her anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai View Post
    I blame the "Kunt" as Socal calls it, Gillian Hughes, the woman who rang 999.

    I'm sure if it were a member of her family she would be in there trying to help, or screaming blue murder to any passers by.
    Blame her for what?
    Not jumping in when full grown male firefighters and police were to afraid to?
    I hope you're taking the piss.

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    ^Maybe she can't swim? But blame her anyway.
    Even a dwarf could wade into a.........
    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    3½ft-deep model boating lake
    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo
    Blame her for what?
    Not jumping in when full grown male firefighters and police were to afraid to?
    I hope you're taking the piss.
    She rang them, they weren't already there Bozo

    Go and look at the bit that says Timeline of the tragedy

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai
    Even a dwarf could wade into a.........
    As your such an expert on pond depths, tell me, how deep is my pond?

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    She saw the bloke walk in there to recover his plastic bag !!!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    ^Maybe she can't swim? But blame her anyway.
    Even a dwarf could wade into a.........
    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    3½ft-deep model boating lake
    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo
    Blame her for what?
    Not jumping in when full grown male firefighters and police were to afraid to?
    I hope you're taking the piss.
    She rang them, they weren't already there Bozo

    Go and look at the bit that says Timeline of the tragedy
    What are you 'blaming' her for?
    The fact that grown men wouldn't go in 3 1/2 feet of water?
    The point here, 'bozo' is not whether or not she jumped in but the fact the grown men, firefighters and policemen, people who are paid to protect the public, wouldn't go in a 3 1/2 feet deep pond because of health and safety regulations.

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    tell me, how deep is my pond?
    Do you keep Koi carp ?, what is the circumference ?

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    This is society on the brink of giving up on itself. We have the same bullshit in Canada.

    wife drives to emerge at hospital. Husband suffering heart attack. Nurses and Docs refuse to help as they are not allowed to handle patients outside the doors. tell women to call for ambulance. Man dies at the doors!

    At some point we will, all end up face down in a pond.

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo
    What are you 'blaming' her for?
    Right, I will say it in Laymans terms for you Koojo

    She saw the guy walk into 3 foot of water then keel over, and didn't go help him, She instead rang the emergency services and watched as the guys body drifted out 25 feet. She probably lit up a cigarette and texted a few of her mates too

    Got that ?
    Last edited by sabai sabai; 27-02-2012 at 09:02 AM.

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    Sorry me again, this is nuts, Health and Safety regs gone wrong!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai
    She saw the guy walk into 3 foot of water then keel over
    Are you actually reading this thread or some other thread? Where does it say she saw this?
    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai
    body drifted out 25 metres
    You aint reading this thread are you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    ^Maybe she can't swim? But blame her anyway.
    3 1'2 foot deep boating pond? I don't think she needed to swim.
    Having said that she may not have known how deep it was but she should still have made an effort (waded until it was too deep if that was the case) and she may have have been able to save him.
    The point of this story is however, that fully grown male firefighters and police wouldn't go in 3 1/2 feet of water to get the guy.

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    what about 'the duty of care' principle?

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    broken Britain at its finest .
    not he first time nor I imagine the last .

    I remember the same happened with a little boy ( or was it 2).
    2 plastic PCSO's stood and watched as the kid/s drowned in a pond , a pond the size of a tennis court!!!
    same thing,Elf n Safety!!

    Wankers

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    [QUOTE=dirtydog;2029693]
    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai
    She saw the guy walk into 3 foot of water then keel over
    Are you actually reading this thread or some other thread? Where does it say she saw this?
    Can you see the "Timeline of Tragedy 12.15PM?
    who do you think told the emergency services about him and his plastic bag ?

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo
    The point of this story is however, that fully grown male firefighters and police wouldn't go in 3 1/2 feet of water to get the guy.
    Can you see the irony in this Koojo ?


    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    Mrs Hughes dialled 999 and watched the Gosport fire crew arrive. But as they waited on the bank, showing little sign of activity, her frustration boiled over.

    ‘I just could not believe how everybody stood around doing nothing,’ she told me. ‘I said, “Quick, go in and get him. He might be all right.”

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    Hey Koojo, some more irony for ya,



    That guy looks like you

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus Jones View Post
    UK is fooked for sure along with humanity!
    It's all the over regulation and over supervision by jobsworth supervisors. The must all be brain dead like ???? Or more likely, sadly it is going the over litigated way of the US.

    Remember the station master who was fired because he went onto the railway tracks to retrieve a shopping cart that was in the way of oncoming trains.

    I can't really think that 3 feet of water would be called bravery but they used to give awards for action over and above the call of duty.

    Sad. Maybe emergency services is now considered just a job like working in a factory rather than a calling as it was in the past. Or the petty supervisors typified by Blakey in On The Buses don't have a factory or government dept to work in so they gravitate t the only government jobs left.

    They will close the pond now and not allow model boating, because it is too dangerous.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
    I apologize if any offence was caused. unless it was intended.
    You people, you think I know feck nothing; I tell you: I know feck all
    Those who cannot change their mind, cannot change anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo
    What are you 'blaming' her for?
    Right, I will say it in Laymans terms for you Koojo

    She saw the guy walk into 3 foot of water then keel over, and didn't go help him, She instead rang the emergency services and watched as the guys body drifted out 25 feet. She probably lit up a cigarette and texted a few of her mates too

    Got that ?
    Agreed, but let me say it in laymans terms for YOU (again).
    That's not the point.
    The point is that having arrived to find Mr. Burgess's body still in the water (all 3 1/2 foot deep of it, 25 ' (about 8 meters) from the shore of a calm boating pond, and Ms hughes sitting on bank having a fag and texting her mates, fully grown firemen and policemen refused to go or were prevented from going in.
    As I said, fucking wankers. That's mostly for the jobsworth supervisors who prevented them from going in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabai sabai View Post
    Hey Koojo, some more irony for ya,



    That guy looks like you
    Only from the eyebrows up.

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    I am in Jail sabai sabai's Avatar
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    I agree with what you are saying Koojo and the beauracracy of it all, but if this woman was me.....

    I would have been straight in there, flung the guy over my shoulder carried him to shore, gave him CPR, looked around for someone to give him the kiss of life, dipped his pockets and been off.
    I wouldn't even wait around for the bravery medal. That's the kind of guy I am

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