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Firefighters left man in Gosport lake 'as he seemed dead'
A CORONER has called for better emergency training after a rescue team stood by and watched as a man lay face down in a pond for health and safety reasons.
This comes after an inquest heard how Simon Burgess, 41, was left floating in a model boating lake in Gosport after apparently suffering an epileptic fit.
But Hampshire Fire and Rescue who arrived within two minutes after a 999 call thought he seemed dead and did not wade in to check.
They were following their health and safety policy saying they should not risk it they are not saving a life.
David Horsley, coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, has called on the fire, police and ambulance services to improve their decision making training to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.
It is unclear how long Mr Burgess was in the water for, but the inquest heard fire-fighters were on the scene within two minutes of the 999 call in March last year.
A pathologist Brett Lockyer told the hearing that a person could normally survive up to seven minutes in the water, or between 20 and 60 minutes in icy conditions.
Devastated dad David Burgess hit out at the risk adverse culture in the fire service.
He said: “We appreciate that the emergency services operate in difficult situations where split second decisions are required.
“But it is also clear that they are often hindered by rules and procedures that attempt to eliminate all risk when by its very nature effective emergency work will always have some risk.”
A Hampshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said the service accepted that there should have been better communication between the emergency services at the scene and clearer protocols on how long after a body was found in water that resuscitation was still a viable option.
He said: “Our officers and firefighters make difficult decisions and professional judgements every day, whatever the situation or incident. Their actions are based on training, balanced judgement and assessments based on the information and circumstances they are faced with in a dynamic situation.”
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