Protestors padlock school gate after student injured

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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A father is now disgruntled after administrators of the school his child attends, instead of taking the injured student to get medical attention, called him to do so.

Dalvern Douglas, while his 10-year-old son was reportedly undergoing surgery at Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston yesterday, staged a demonstration with relatives outside Victoria Primary School in Linstead. One of the protestors padlocked the gate to the institution.

Clutching a placard, Douglas told the Jamaica Observer that his only child was participating in extra-curricular activities at the school when he collided with another student.

“Wednesday evening I got a call from [a school administrator] saying that my son met in an accident. I asked about the nature of the incident. They said that he was training for primary school champs and he collided with another student. So I asked them why they don't take him to the hospital. Her reply was that it's not their responsibility to take him to the hospital. So I asked them, 'What if you did not get me or I cannot come to take him to the hospital, what then?'” Douglas explained.

The father, who said he was five minutes away when the incident happened, rushed to the institution.

“When I came my son's forehead was dented inward and blood was running from his nose. I told them that if my son died this wouldn't be the end of it, and I rushed with him to the Linstead Hospital. On route to the hospital, he started to lose consciousness, he started blacking out. When I got to the hospital I raised an alarm and a nurse started attending to me and say, 'This is serious',” Douglas continued.

The placard-bearing father said school officials could have assisted his son to the hospital because there were four cars on the compound when he got there.

“You cannot have a policy where you are going to say, 'Wait until the parent comes'. What if the parent is an hour away? That can't work. They have no remorse and they have the audacity to bring police at my house to say that I threatened them. The police station and the hospital are same place together in Linstead, and they could not take the child to hospital,” he lamented.

Douglas said the swift action taken by medical practitioners at Linstead Hospital saved his son's life.

“They did everything to preserve his life and then made the necessary calls to Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), Bustamante Hospital for Children, and the University Hospital of the West Indies, and they moved off with him. The ambulance took him to KPH where he did a CT scan... and then he was rushed to Bustamante Hospital where he's undergoing surgery right now, as we speak,” he said.

At the same time, Douglas made an impassioned plea for the Ministry of Education to intervene.

When the Observer contacted the ministry's Director of Communication Colin Steer yesterday, he explained that the policy is that, in the event that a child is injured on the school's compound, the travelling officer is to take the student to a nearby medical facility before contacting the parent.

Steer told the Observer that the guidance counsellor and the principal are travelling officers.

The communication director, while noting that the school is to provide a critical incident report to the ministry's regional office, said if a school pays for the medical expenses, they could be reimbursed.

The school's guidance counsellor, Donell Marriott, who spoke to the Observer on behalf of the school, said he was not on the compound when the incident took place at approximately 4:30 pm. He said, normally, he would take the child to Linstead Hospital, contact the parents, and ask to be met there.

According to Marriott, he was informed of the incident by the child's class teacher, who was also not at the institution at the time of the incident.

Noting that the incident is unfortunate, Marriott, who said he met with Douglas last Thursday, said he will attempt to have further dialogue with him.

The child is said to be recovering after surgery.

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